Institutionalized Precarity: States, Philippine Migrants and the Making of Global Worker Families, 1974-2020
How are migrant women and men maintained as precarious, essential workers for generations, why does intergenerational precarity persist amidst the expansion of origin-state protection, and with what consequences for the social reproduction of migrant worker families? My project traces the state-institutionalized trajectories of Barrio Mundo (BM) and Barrio Vaticano (BV) since the 1974 New Labor Code—the Philippine law often cited for producing “the most globalized labor force on the planet” (Rodriguez 2010) and the migration governance model currently replicated throughout the Global South. For nearly half a century, generations of Barrio Mundo women and men have been moving from one short-term contract to the next across multiple countries such as the United Arab Emirates, Taiwan, South Korea and Israel. Coursing through the state labor-brokerage infrastructure, BMs itinerant contractors maintain split-households in order to support a lifelong pattern of multinational, serial labor migration. Relying on family sponsorship and social networks, Barrio Vaticano migrants stay in one country and occupation for generations as domesticated wage-workers. Cultivated to subsist on domestic-work by state laws and church community networks since the 1970s, Barrio Vaticano women and men forge reunified households to survive as low-wage freelancers in Italy. With a rare longue-durée analysis of Philippine labor-export and its village implementation, my dissertation illustrates the institutional reproduction and intersectional effects of global precarity on longstanding overseas worker families.