Chronotopic (Re) Configurations in Life Stories of Filipino Domestic Workers in Hong Kong

Authors: Nicanor Guinto (Southern Luzon State University, The Philippines)
Speakers: Nicanor Guinto
Strand: Language and Spatiotemporal Frames
Session Type: 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.

Keywords: Chronotope, Life story, Migrant domestic work, Overseas Filipino work, Linguistic ethnography