Chronotopic (re)configurations in life stories of Filipino domestic workers in Hong Kong

Author: Nicanor L. Guinto (Southern Luzon State University)
Speaker: Nicanor L. Guinto
Topic: Language and Spatiotemporal Frames
The CALA 2022 General Session


Temporary labor migrants from the Philippines, particularly those employed in the caring and service industries, are said to collectively evoke a sense of belonging to an imagined community of Filipinos-in-diaspora as a way to mitigate feelings of, among other things, contradictory class mobility and dislocation (Aguilar Jr., 2014; Parreñas, 2001). Employing a linguistic ethnographic approach, I investigate these claims by examining the chronotopic organization of life stories of 20 Filipino domestic workers in Hong Kong who were part of a University-based organization that offers free Sunday classes to domestic workers. The narratives were elicited as part of ethnographic interviews conducted by me, a kababayan (fellow Filipino), between February to December 2017. Following Agha (2007), chronotopes are non-isolatable configurations of ‘place-time-and-personhood’ that are hinged on particular participation frameworks (what he calls ‘mass mediated spacetime’). I demonstrate that, on the one hand, such situated tellings enable us to see (re)conceptualizations of time and space that are intimately linked with notions about doing being a domestic worker in Hong Kong or an Overseas Filipino Worker; on the other, these situated chronotopic (re)configurations tend to be used by the tellers to recursively position themselves in the unequal distribution of global labor opportunities.


Agha, Asif. (2007). Recombinant selves in mass mediated spacetime. Language & Communication, 27, 320-335. doi:doi:10.1016/j.langcom.2007.01.001
Aguilar Jr., Filomeno V. (2014). Migration revolution: Philippine Nationhood and Class Relations in a Global Age. Quezon City, Philippines: Ateneo de Manila University Press.
Parreñas, Rhacel Salazar. (2001). Servants of Globalization: Women, Migration, and Domestic Work. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

Keywords: Chronotope, life story, migrant domestic work, Overseas Filipino work, linguistic ethnography