Annotation: Constable, Nicole. 1999. At Home but Not at Home

Constable, Nicole. 1999. At Home but Not at Home: Filipina Narratives of Ambivalent Returns. Cultural Anthropology 14(2):203-228.

Constable argues that Filipino women’s notions of Hong Kong and the Philippines as “home” are gendered in several ways. Borrowing from Said (1984), Constable illustrates that the lives and decisions of paid domestic workers are being complicated by their migration, through which they gain a “plural vision.” It is through this plurality of experience that domestic women workers in Hong Kong are able to “carve out new identities” (Constable 1999:223), borrowing from Dorinne Kondo’s “crafting selves” (1990). Looking at the cases of five Filipino women domestic workers in Hong Kong, Constable reveals the varied idiosyncrasies in the experiences of migrants that lie behind the simplistic economic reasons of leaving or staying at “home.” Further, Constable demonstrates that women’s ideas of “home” are negotiated and reworked according to their family obligations and relations, and filial piety (Constable 1999:212). In addition to the given relationships to their families back home, their notions of “home” also differ according to the specific conditions of work in which they find themselves.

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