topic

Laboring at home and abroad

In Migrants for Export (University of Minnesota Press, 2010), sociologist Robyn Magalit Rodriguez defines the Philippines as a “labor brokerage state”: a country “which actively prepares, mobilizes, and regulates its citizens for migrant work abroad.” This orientation by the Philippines state fundamentally shapes the lives of Filipinos everywhere. At home, the state’s focus on exporting labor manifests in a failure to cultivate the domestic economy, rendering the lives of Filipinos in the Philippines precarious and monetarily impoverished. Abroad, the state’s willingness to facilitate Filipinos’ migrant work and simultaneous inability to guarantee any protections renders Filipinos globally dispersed and vulnerable, exposing Filipinos abroad to enormous exploitation and abuse.

Untitled

Tanya Kaur Bindra

2012 Photograph from the series Manufacturing Migration

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Tanya Kaur Bindra

b. 1989

Raised in Saudi Arabia, Germany, Canada, and the United States, Tanya Kaur Bindra is a photographer and writer currently based in Mali. Tanya graduated from McGill University in Montreal, Canada in 2012 with a Bachelors of Art, double majoring in Women’s Studies and International Development Studies.  She later relocated to West Africa, where she currently covers news for international media outlets and pursues long-term, documentary projects through her personal work.

In 2011, I began interning at the Immigrant Workers Centre in Montreal, Canada and organizing with a group called Women of Diverse Origins. Through these two experiences I began to understand the role Canadian immigration and labor policies played in institutionalizing the precarity of temporary foreign workers, as well as how women were particularly implicated in this reality.

While conducting research on the international division of caregiving labor, I looked at not only the pull of Canadian, and other “receiving” countries’, immigration practices but also the push of the labor-export policies in “sending” countries.  I paid particular attention to how recruitment agencies function in cities where globalized labor circuits facilitate the migration process.  

At the same time, I began to explore photography as a research methodology during the course of my field research in the Philippines and Hong Kong. I wanted to document my findings, but I also wanted to show what it actually looks like when approximately 4,000 people, mostly women, leave a country every day to work abroad.  I wanted to show what it looks like when women’s photos are plastered to the wall of a recruitment agency, pictured smiling, hands clasped, with only a number pinned on their apron to identify them. I wanted to show a reality and to illustrate the numbers of people that cross borders everyday with only the hopes of bettering their lives and sending money back home.

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  • Born: Chur, Switzerland
  • Based: Mali

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Untitled

Tanya Kaur Bindra

2012 Photograph from the series Manufacturing Migration

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Tanya Kaur Bindra

b. 1989

Raised in Saudi Arabia, Germany, Canada, and the United States, Tanya Kaur Bindra is a photographer and writer currently based in Mali. Tanya graduated from McGill University in Montreal, Canada in 2012 with a Bachelors of Art, double majoring in Women’s Studies and International Development Studies.  She later relocated to West Africa, where she currently covers news for international media outlets and pursues long-term, documentary projects through her personal work.

In 2011, I began interning at the Immigrant Workers Centre in Montreal, Canada and organizing with a group called Women of Diverse Origins. Through these two experiences I began to understand the role Canadian immigration and labor policies played in institutionalizing the precarity of temporary foreign workers, as well as how women were particularly implicated in this reality.

While conducting research on the international division of caregiving labor, I looked at not only the pull of Canadian, and other “receiving” countries’, immigration practices but also the push of the labor-export policies in “sending” countries.  I paid particular attention to how recruitment agencies function in cities where globalized labor circuits facilitate the migration process.  

At the same time, I began to explore photography as a research methodology during the course of my field research in the Philippines and Hong Kong. I wanted to document my findings, but I also wanted to show what it actually looks like when approximately 4,000 people, mostly women, leave a country every day to work abroad.  I wanted to show what it looks like when women’s photos are plastered to the wall of a recruitment agency, pictured smiling, hands clasped, with only a number pinned on their apron to identify them. I wanted to show a reality and to illustrate the numbers of people that cross borders everyday with only the hopes of bettering their lives and sending money back home.

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  • Born: Chur, Switzerland
  • Based: Mali

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Tanya Kaur Bindra

b. 1989

Raised in Saudi Arabia, Germany, Canada, and the United States, Tanya Kaur Bindra is a photographer and writer currently based in Mali. Tanya graduated from McGill University in Montreal, Canada in 2012 with a Bachelors of Art, double majoring in Women’s Studies and International Development Studies.  She later relocated to West Africa, where she currently covers news for international media outlets and pursues long-term, documentary projects through her personal work.

In 2011, I began interning at the Immigrant Workers Centre in Montreal, Canada and organizing with a group called Women of Diverse Origins. Through these two experiences I began to understand the role Canadian immigration and labor policies played in institutionalizing the precarity of temporary foreign workers, as well as how women were particularly implicated in this reality.

While conducting research on the international division of caregiving labor, I looked at not only the pull of Canadian, and other “receiving” countries’, immigration practices but also the push of the labor-export policies in “sending” countries.  I paid particular attention to how recruitment agencies function in cities where globalized labor circuits facilitate the migration process.  

At the same time, I began to explore photography as a research methodology during the course of my field research in the Philippines and Hong Kong. I wanted to document my findings, but I also wanted to show what it actually looks like when approximately 4,000 people, mostly women, leave a country every day to work abroad.  I wanted to show what it looks like when women’s photos are plastered to the wall of a recruitment agency, pictured smiling, hands clasped, with only a number pinned on their apron to identify them. I wanted to show a reality and to illustrate the numbers of people that cross borders everyday with only the hopes of bettering their lives and sending money back home.

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  • Born: Chur, Switzerland
  • Based: Mali

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And This Next Song Is for Everybody: Filipino Lounge Bands in Manila and Seoul

R. Zamora Linmark

1995 Essay 14 pages. Courtesy of Kaya Press and R. Zamora Linmark. .

Muæ: A Journal of Transcultural Production 1 (1995): 150-163.

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R. Zamora Linmark

R. Zamora Linmark is the author of three poetry collections: Prime-Time Apparitions (2005), The Evolution of a Sigh (2008), and Drive-By Vigils (2011), all from Hanging Loose Press. He has also published Leche (Coffee House Press, 2011) and Rolling the R’s (Kaya Press, 1995). He adapted Rolling the R’s for stage, and it premiered in Honolulu, HI in 2008. He divides his time between Honolulu and Manila.

 

Photograph by Lisa Asagi.

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  • Born: Manila, Philippines
  • Based: Manila, Philippines
  • Also Based in: Honolulu, HI, USA

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Harrod J. Suarez

b. 1979
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Harrod J. Suarez was born in Manila and grew up in the Bay Area. After stints in Columbia, Missouri; Brooklyn, New York; Minneapolis, Minnesota; and San Diego, California, en route to completing his Ph.D. in American Studies at the University of Minnesota, he is currently Assistant Professor of English and Comparative American Studies at Oberlin College. He lives in Cleveland, Ohio, and is at work on his first book, The Mother of Invention: Diasporic Filipinas and Cultures of Insolence. He also created and curates two web-based projects, Poetastic and #apresfanon.

My work—which encompasses my scholarship, teaching, and creative projects—unfolds on its own terms, and it is only in retrospect that I am able to clarify only a few of the directions I believe it has taken and only a few of the interventions I think it makes. While it does not speak for itself, neither is my speech adequate (hence “only a few”). It will have to be spoken for, by others including me. There are critical links I pursue across the broad category of empire, which I narrow down into the heuristic categories of gender and sexuality, language and culture, and diaspora and globalization. In particular, I am inspired by the ways we fail to reproduce who we (as Filipina/os, as gendered subjects, as im/migrants, etc.) were supposed to have been.

There is undoubtedly a violence and trauma that is central to this narrative, and which continues to be well documented by artists, critics, writers, scholars, and activists. But I insist on advocating for the minor, perhaps transient, ways that this collective (some might say biopolitical) failure also delivers pleasures and subversions that may remain illegible within our current frameworks. It may sound naïve, arrogant, or even inconsequential, but the same advice I give to my students colors—in rich, vivid hues, at least I think—my life and work: If your biggest contributions to this world, to this life, are things that can be measured, affirmed, celebrated, and recognized by our institutions and our current epistemologies, then you will not have been ambitious enough. We (need to) aspire to exceed the calculations and calibrations of empire—not along the lines of the model minority, but along the rhizomatic detours that we (can) conjure up in response to the diverse challenges we face.

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  • Born: Manila, Philippines
  • Based: The diaspora

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We are the Jews of today: Filipino Domestic Workers in Israel and the Language of Diaspora

Claudia Liebelt

2008 Criticism 18 pages. Courtesy of HAGAR.

HAGAR Studies in Culture, Polity and Identities 8.1 (2008): 63-81.

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Claudia Liebelt

b. 1976
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Claudia Liebelt completed her Ph.D. in Social Anthropology in Halle and is a lecturer of social anthropology at the University of Bayreuth, Germany. Her research interests include urban anthropology, transnationalism, migration and citizenship, the Filipino labor diaspora, ritual and religion, gender, global care and domestic work, as well as the anthropology of the body. The scope of her work is reflected in her publications and her teaching, which includes courses on Transnational Migration, Care Work, Gender, Anthropology of Religion, the Middle East, the Body, and Medical Anthropology. She has conducted fieldwork in Israel, Morocco, Turkey and the Philippines.

In the framework of a comparative research project at Keele University (UK), she studied the “Sociality, Caring and the Religious Imagination in the Filipino Diaspora” (2007-2010, PI Professor Pnina Werbner). Among her publications is Caring for the ‘Holy Land’: Filipina Domestic Workers in Israel (Berghahn Books, 2011). She also co-directed an ethnographic documentary on Filipina return migrants in Manila, Cycles of Care, with Lizza M. David (UK/D 2011, 52 mins).

She currently works on a research project about aesthetic body modifications, beauty salons, feminity and the service sector in Istanbul, Turkey. Based on ethnographic research, this project seeks to contribute to our understanding of culturally informed, gendered bodily practices in their (urban) diversity, in defiance of the assumption of increasingly standardised beauty norms and images in an age of globalisation. Hereby, it seeks to investigate cultural imaginations of morality, public space, modernity, citizenship, technology and health in their relation to changing forms of gender and kinship in a global city.

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  • Born: Cologne, Germany
  • Based: Bayreuth, Germany

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Extracts

Michelle Dizon

2009 Two channel video installation on the production of gold in the Compostela Valley in the Philippines 8 minutes

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Michelle Dizon

b. 1977

Artist, filmmaker, and writer, Michelle Dizon, was born and raised in Los Angeles as part of the Philippine diaspora.  Her video installations, films, and writing focus on subjectivity as it intersects with the histories of colonialism and its legacies of immigration, diaspora, and globalization.  Currently, she is at work on a feature-film and large-scale installation entitled Perpetual Peace that addresses U.S. imperialism, militarization, globalization, and war in the Philippines.  She is also revising a book entitled Vision in Ruins that explores visuality in an era of neoliberal globalization.  

She has exhibited and lectured internationally at venues such as the Center for Feminist Studies in Zagreb, Croatia; Jeu de Paume in Paris, France; Caixaforum in Barcelona, Spain; Casa Asia in Madrid, Spain; Copenhagen International Documentary Film Festival in Copenhagen, Denmark; Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manila, Philippines; Vargas Museum in Manila, Philippines; Para/Site Art Space in Hong Kong, China; Galleryloop in Seoul, Korea; Tate Modern in London, England; Human Rights Center in Berkeley, United States; CUE Art Foundation in New York, United States; Vox Populi in Philadelphia, United States; and Redcat Gallery in Los Angeles, United States. She has received fellowships from the Human Rights Center, the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, the University of California Initiative for Research in the Arts, and the Fulbright Association. 

Dizon is the incoming Co-Chair of the Visual Art Program at the Vermont College of Fine Arts, and she is Visiting Faculty in the Photography and Media Program at the California Institute of the Arts.  She earned an M.F.A. in Art with emphasis in Interdisciplinary Studio from the University of California, Los Angeles, and a Ph.D. in Rhetoric with designated emphases in Film and Women, Gender, and Sexuality from the University of California, Berkeley.  She lives and works between Los Angeles, California and Davao City, Mindanao, The Philippines.

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  • Born: Los Angeles, CA, USA
  • Based: Los Angeles, CA, USA

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Jason Luna Gavilan

b. Veterans' Day, 1979

Dr. Jason Luna Gavilan was born on Veterans’ Day in 1979, in Lemoore Naval Air Station in California. Inspired by events related to his father’s (tatay’s), mother’s (nanay’s), uncle’s (tiyo’s), and grandfather’s (lolo’s) veteran service in the US Navy, he chose to pursue research and creative interests that locate personal histories, comparative racial politics, and global impacts of Filipino and other ethno-racial military enlistments: primarily as a scholar, and secondarily as a poet.

As a scholar, Jason Luna Gavilan received a doctoral degree from the Department of History at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Historical and literary approaches in Philippine/Filipino American studies, Asian American studies, twentieth-century modern United States History, empire studies, and ethnic studies inform and shape his research and teaching experience. His research, teaching, and writing goals within higher education are twofold: (1) to contribute to the overall diversity of higher education with the best of his growing knowledge, training, experience, and learning capabilities; and (2) to research, teach, and write about the changing politics of diversity from within and beyond the discipline of history. Jason Luna Gavilan successfully defended his dissertation, “The Politics of Enlistment, Empire, and the ‘US-Philippine Nation’: Enlisted and Civilian Filipino Workers in and beyond the US Navy, 1941-1965,” on June 12, 2012—Philippine Independence Day. He filed his dissertation on September 18, 2012, and it is now available in ProQuest Dissertations and Theses. He also wrote an article titled “The Right Place at the Right Time’: A Strategic Genealogy behind the Alliance between the Black Panther Party and the Yellow Power Movement, late 1960s to early 1970s” for the University of California, Berkeley’s history journal Clio’s Scroll. Dr. Gavilan currently resides in Fresno, California and is working on three projects: (1) the manuscript version of his dissertation; (2) a recently finished article, “Of ‘Mates’ and Men: The Comparative Racial Politics of Filipino Naval Enlistment, 1941-1945,” which will be published in Critical Ethnic Studies: An Anthology; and (3) a piece written with historian Alex Fabros about a Filipino enlistee of the First Infantry Regiment who also became an internee in the relocation camps during World War II.

As a poet, Jason Luna Gavilan has performed in open mics, poetry events, and theatrical plays. Themes of nonviolent political consciousness, self and collective empowerment, and other various contents and forms of decolonization facilitate the contours of his poetry and performance pieces. Jason Luna Gavilan has shared his poetry and spoken words in various universities and other venues, including UC, Berkeley; the Nuyorican Café in New York City; the University of Michigan; the Matrix Theatre in Detroit, Michigan; University of California, Riverside; and the University of Hong Kong. He also performed in the 24th annual Pilipino Cultural Night at UC Berkeley (2000) and in a play called “Let’s Talk about AIDS” (Hong Kong, 2001). He was also one of the co-writers of “Negotiating the Academic Industrial Complex: A Three-Act Play,” a humorous series of skits about the art and politics of navigating through the academic industrial complex. Jason Luna Gavilan’s poetry and writings have been featured in various publications, including “For My Áte” in the Michigan-based Filipinas (April 2007); and “Parang Tatay Ko” in the inaugural issue of Saling Sarili: A Journal of Philippine and Filipino Studies (2008).   Along with his historical monograph and articles, Dr. Gavilan is composing a poetry anthology about the transnational and trans-historical impact of writer, researcher and poet Carlos Bulosan.

During the preliminary stages of his doctoral work at the University of Michigan (2003-2004), Jason Luna Gavilan conducted a series of interviews with Filipino Navy retirees and their relatives. These transnational interviews occurred in Fresno, California, and in the Cavite Province in Luzon, Philippines, respectively. One of his interviews, with Larion Luna Toledo, is featured in the June 2013 launching of the Center for Art and Thought (CA+T).

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  • Born: Lemoore Naval Air Station, CA, USA
  • Based: Fresno, CA, USA

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Pacific Fleet

Mik Gaspay

2008 Oil on canvas 60 in. x 40 in.

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Mik Gaspay

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Mik Gaspay is an interdisciplinary artist who primarily works with found objects, painting and sculpture. His practice investigates translated meanings of commonplace products and structures: drawing from the tension between functionality, purpose and language he conjures up expressions fused from readymade signification, history and uncertainty. His work queries for meanings embedded in the materials within objects we consume and encompass our lives with.

Mik Gaspay was born in Quezon City, Philippines and migrated to Palo Alto, California at the age of 9. He received a B.F.A. in Illustration/Design from the California College of Arts and Crafts and later attended the California College of the Arts for his M.F.A. He currently lives and works in San Francisco, California.

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  • Born: Quezon City, Philippines
  • Based: San Francisco, CA, USA

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ESCABECHE: Filipino Sweet and Sour

Mariano “Manny” Montelibano

2009 Documentary of Installation Artwork 4:30 min Video courtesy of Mariano G. Montelibano A short documentary of an installation of "Escabeche: Filipino Sweet & Sour"

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Mariano “Manny” Montelibano

Mariano “Manny” G. Montelibano III is a Visayan media artist who focuses his works on the psychology of current social, political, economic, and religious structures. In the Philippines, his works have been exhibited in the National Museum of the Filipino People, Cultural Center of the Philippines, Metropolitan Museum of Manila, Museo Iloilo, Visayas Islands Visual Arts Exhibit and Conference, Vargas Museum, Ateneo Art Gallery, Galleria Duemila, NOVA Gallery, Museo Negrense de La Salle, and Fort Santiago-Intramuros. He has also been part of exhibitions in Seoul, Korea; Hong Kong, Spain, Germany, New Zealand, Canada, and France.

He is a video and sound installation artist, film and stage director, editor, and technical specialist, and he teaches in the University of St. La Salle in Bacolod City. Currently, he is affiliated with National Commission for Culture and the Arts of the Philippines, Black Artists in Asia Association, Crossing Negros Cultural Foundation Inc., Produksyon Tramontina Inc., Bacollywood Organization, and VIVA ExCon Org.

Manny is based in the south of the City of Bacolod, the province of Negros Occidental, Philippines.

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  • Born: The Philippines
  • Based: Bacolod City, Negros Occidental, Philippines

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