Labor Regimes of Indenture – A Global Overview of Migrant Domestic Work

June 17, 2024

Tues, Jan 23rd, 3:00 pm in Blusson Hall, Room 10011
SFU, Burnaby

The Department of Sociology & Anthropology has partnered with the David Lam Centre for International Communication and the Department of Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies, SFU, to host a talk by

Rhacel Salazar Parreñas, Professor of Sociology and Gender Studies at the University of Southern California

Across the globe, migrant domestic workers are unfree workers whose legal residency is contingent on their continued employment as a live-in worker with a designated sponsor. This talk examines the politics of their indenture. Providing a macro and micro perspective, it begins with a global overview of the incorporation of migrant domestic workers as indentured workers in key host countries in the Americas, Asia, Europe and the Middle East, explains the cultural logic that undergirds their indenture, and then describes the conditions of domestic work in the ‘worst destination’ of the United Arab Emirates, where absconding is illegal and quitting one’s job requires a sponsor’s permission. This talk interrogates various theoretical frameworks for thinking about contemporary unfreedoms – slavery, human trafficking and structural violence – and proposes the alternative concept of “indentured mobility,” which recognizes the personal gains made by migrants in the face of servitude. The concept of indentured mobility foregrounds the agency of migrants, acknowledging how they choose the unfreedom of servitude as a better option over the unfreedom of their poverty in the Philippines.  



The talk is in Habiba Zaman's GSWS 314 Race, Class, and Gender class. 


light refreshments served