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 2021 General Session


Abstract

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.

References:

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