Mobility and Precarity Panel
Théoriser les mobilités, circulations et enchevêtrements de la diaspora philippine
Convenor/Animateur: John Paul Catungal, University of British Columbia
Chair/Président: Cecilia Federizon, University of Toronto
Discussant/Intervenant: Dennis Gupa, University of Victoria/University of Winnipeg
In the last few decades, overseas Filipino workers (OFW) have been the target market for various investment schemes for property development in major cities of the Philippines. While this phenomena has been explored in some critical studies (Ortega 2018; Pido 2017; Faier 2013) in this presentation, I consider this dynamic through a case study of real estate brokers based in Dubai who sell property to fellow Filipino migrant workers both as a form of investment and safety net for their impending return from the Middle East. I show how migrants’ dreams, circulating notions of the good and rich life, tightly intertwine with the postcolonial state’s fantasies of participating in the global economy. At the same time, I explore how OFW engagement with urban investments could be framed as “experiments” (Roy and Ong 2011) that are not yet fully captured by the totalizing urbanized visions of the state and major real estate players. Lastly, I highlight the crucial role that migrant workers and part-time real estate brokers play in the construction of Philippine property markets. I do this as a way to work through how Philippine real estate has also become increasingly reliant, not just on migrant remittances, but also on their valuable transnational labours.
This paper examines the strategic mobilization of Filipinx kinship relations (including the roles of ate, kuya, and katapid) in community efforts by Filipinx Canadian organizations in Greater Vancouver to address educational incompletion among diasporic Filipinx youth in the city-region. Drawing on a community partnered research project with the Kababayan Academic Mentorship Program (KAMP) and their history of educational programming, organizing, and activisms for the local Filipinx diaspora, I theorize diasporic Filipinxs’ return to Filipinx kinship relations as a transnationally inflected political practice through which Filipinx youth and community organizers name, critique, and refuse the queering of the migrant family by both the Canadian and the Philippine nation-states. I highlight three functions of the return to Filipinx kinship: (1) as a powerful assertion of ethno-racial intimacy in contexts of diasporic displacement and racial minorization, (2) as a subtle critique of the state-sanctioned violence of family separations resulting from migration and labour policies, and (3) as a foundational practice of peer and intergenerational support in the face of abandonment by racialized educational institutions and systems. In short, in their return to Filipinx kinship terms and forms, diasporic Filipinx youth and organizers not only untether the “familial” from the biological, but also refuse educational incompletion as a manifestation of the racialization and queering of diasporic Filipinxs in Vancouver
Racialized immigrant communities, particularly Filipinx, are being lauded for reinvigorating organized religion, particularly in Catholic Churches across the city. As the story goes, when Catholic Churches were facing dwindling congregations, the migration of Filipinx helped to stave off the institution’s irrelevance. In this story, religion is spatialized in particular ways—Vancouver is cast as an inherently secular space while the Filipinx diaspora is cast as irrevocably Catholic or religious. In this paper, I attend to another set of narratives offered by queer Filipinxs that might give a more nuanced look at the ways that Filipinxs negotiate their relationships with religion and the church. Building off the work of queer of colour scholars and Filipinx diaspora studies, this paper highlights the ways that queer Filipinx complicate assumptions about the diaspora as wholly Catholic. In dialogue with Indigenous scholarship that traces the gendered and sexual ways that settler colonialism dispossesses through institutions like the church and scholarship that centres the knowledges and resistance of Indigenous women, queer, and Two-Spirit peoples and communities, the paper troubles the assumption of the secularism of the city. By following how queer Filipinx navigate the white settler colonial city and their complicated relationships with religion in the diaspora, I argue that the lives, negotiations, and embodied knowledges of queer Filipinx can show the workings of multiple colonialisms (from the Philippines and in Canada) in ways that invite those of us in the Filipinx diaspora to reconsider normative narratives about the Philippines and Canada.
Migrant remittances are typically conceptualized in their macro-level impacts on development and democratization in the migrant’s home country. Micro-level impacts, such as on the sender and recipient, are missed in this literature. In this paper, I draw on the concept of “social remittances” (Levitt 1998) to emphasize the inherent relational dynamic of remittances, and how these signify distant relationships that are created and maintained through monetary transfers between the sender and recipient. I therefore theorize remittances primarily as a relationship between the sender and recipient, one where the sender can shift the latter’s political behaviour and choices. I analyze the relational dynamic of remittances in the context of Filipino migration, specifically for recipients in the Ilocos Region of the Philippines. I conducted a quantitative analysis of a 2016 survey taken in Ilocos, which encompasses 3,740 respondents across 158 barangays. My analysis focuses on three areas—access to government-provided services, political networks and participation, and voting behaviour—and my initial findings show a mix of impacts on recipients’ political behaviour. First, my findings strongly indicate that while remittance recipients are less likely to access government services, their perception of ease in accessing these services increases. Recipients are also shown to be more likely to have a member of their household in office as well as have a direct connection to the local mayor. Finally, my analysis shows that remittance recipients weigh the opinion of family relatives and friends more heavily in their voting decisions compared to non-recipient respondents.
In the last few decades, overseas Filipino workers (OFW) have been the target market for various investment schemes for property development in major cities of the Philippines. While this phenomenon has been explored in some critical studies (Ortega, 2018; Pido, 2017; Faier, 2013) in this presentation, I consider this dynamic through a case study of contractual real estate brokers travelling to or based in Dubai who sell property to fellow Filipino migrant workers both as a form of investment and safety net for their impending return from the Middle East. Specifically, I will highlight their crucial role in extending Philippine property markets beyond the nation’s territorial borders. I do this as a way to work through how Philippine real estate has also become increasingly reliant not just on migrant remittances, but also on their valuable but precarious transnational labors. By following the work of these contractual agents, I also draw attention to the complex social and diasporic networks that help facilitate these overseas investments.
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