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Servants of Globalization: Women, Migration, and Domestic Workby Rhacel Salazar Parrenas
Synopses & Reviews
Servants of Globalization is a poignant and often troubling study of migrant Filipina domestic workers who leave their own families behind to do the mothering and caretaking work of the global economy in countries throughout the world. It specifically focuses on the emergence of parallel lives among such workers in the cities of Rome and Los Angeles, two main destinations for Filipina migration.
The book is largely based on interviews with domestic workers, but the book also powerfully portrays the larger economic picture as domestic workers from developing countries increasingly come to perform the menial labor of the global economy. This is often done at great cost to the relations with their own split-apart families. The experiences of migrant Filipina domestic workers are also shown to entail a feeling of exclusion from their host society, a downward mobility from their professional jobs in the Philippines, and an encounter with both solidarity and competition from other migrant workers in their communities.
The author applies a new theoretical lens to the study of migration—the level of the subject, moving away from the two dominant theoretical models in migration literature, the macro and the intermediate. At the same time, she analyzes the three spatial terrains of the various institutions that migrant Filipina domestic workers inhabit—the local, the transnational, and the global. She draws upon the literature of international migration, sociology of the family, womens work, and cultural studies to illustrate the reconfiguration of the family community and social identity in migration and globalization. The book shows how globalization not only propels the migration of Filipina domestic workers but also results in the formation of parallel realities among them in cities with greatly different contexts of reception.
Book News Annotation:
Parre<~n>nas (women's and Asian American studies, U. Wisconsin, Madison) gathered interviews from male and mostly female domestic workers in Rome, Italy and Los Angeles, California to create the data base for this study, which is a revision of her 1998 PhD dissertation in ethnic studies from the U. of California, Berkeley. She outlines the theory used in her work—including poststructuralism; then offers her analysis of the social process of the outflow of migration; its dislocation of partial citizenship; the lives of migrant Filipina domestic workers and their reasons for migrating; and the formation and maintenance of transnational families in global restructuring.
Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
A poignant, often troubling, study of Filipina domestic workers who leave their own families behind to do the mothering and caretaking work of the global economy in countries throughout the world.
“[Parrenass] nuanced accounts and fresh analysis challenge the reader to think deeply, not just about the suffering of immigrant domestic workers and their families, but about the entire global system that creates such labor, and how that arrangement damages all women—even first-worlders. . . . Remarkable.”—The Womens Review of Books
“Offers rich and timely analysis to reveal the lives of migrant domestic workers in the shadow of globalization. . . . Brilliant feminist sociological scholarship with theoretical sophistication, emotional sensitivity, and political committment.”—Work and Occupations
Includes bibliographical references (p. 283-304) and index.
About the Author
Rhacel Salazar Parreñas is Professor of Women's and Asian American Studies at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
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