Migrant Domestic Work and Activism

Summary of Research Topic

Scholars of domestic work highlight how migrant domestic workers face intersecting forms of discrimination because of their social locations as racialized, working-class women from the Global South with precarious immigration status (Bakan and Stasiulis 2005; Arat-Koc 1989). Dr. Tungohan builds on this research by highlighting migrants’ agency during the migration process. By showing how migrant domestic workers use various “weapons of the weak” (Scott 1985) to represent their needs despite their vulnerabilities, she disrupts the “narratives of tragic linearity” (Manalansan 2008) oftentimes associated with research on domestic work. She demonstrates that acts of opposition taken up by migrant domestic workers are manifested through the ‘politics of everyday resistance,’ in which they resist routine experiences of discrimination in the workplace, in their communities, and in the public at large. These acts take the form of individual workplace micro-rebellions, which she defines as acts designed to gain political visibility to the hidden experiences of migrant domestic workers.

Her work also sheds light on the many ways that migrant domestic worker resistance is embodied through the ‘politics from below,’ which is characterized by migrant domestic workers’ continuous attempts to improve their living and working conditions through the incitement of changes in legislation in sending and receiving states and through the establishment of international treaties such as the Convention on domestic work.

Related Publications

  • Tungohan, E. (Under Contract). Migrant Care Worker Activism in Canada: From the Politics of Everyday Resistance to the Politics from Below. Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press. (Permalink)
  • Tungohan, E. (2017). The Transformative and Radical Feminism of Grassroots Migrant Women’s Movement(s) in Canada. Canadian Journal of Political Science, 50(2), 479-494. doi:10.1017/S0008423917000622. (Permalink)
  • Tungohan, E. (2016). Intersectionality and social justice: assessing activists’ use of intersectionality through grassroots migrants’ organizations in Canada. Politics, Groups, and Identities, 4(3), 347-362. doi:10.1080/21565503.2015.1064006. (Permalink)
  • Tungohan, E. (2015). International Approaches to Governing Temporary Labour Migrants: A Critical Assessment of the UN Committee on Migrant Workers, the ILO Conventions on Labour Migration, and the International Migrants Alliance. In J. Boulden and W. Kymlicka (Eds.), International Approaches to Governing Ethnic Diversity (pp. 102-127). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. (Permalink)
  • Tungohan, E. (2012). Debunking Notions of Migrant ‘Victimhood’: A Critical Assessment of Temporary Labour Migration Programs and Filipina Migrant Activism in Canada. In R. Coloma, B. McElhinny, E. Tungohan and L. Davidson (Eds.), Disturbing Invisibility: Filipinos in Canada (pp. 161-180). Toronto: University of Toronto Press. (Permalink)