2008 Volume 20 Pages 75-88
This article aims to analyze the meaning and functions of transnational relative networks of migrant women and their brother/sister relations, mainly from a life history interview with a Philippine woman working in Tokyo named “A” who has ten brothers and sisters.
The purpose of this paper is as follows. Firstly, it is to uncover the background and process of career progression of migrant domestic workers. Secondly, it is to clarify the situation of migrant women in the workplace and daily life. Consequently, I explain the circumstances of the mobility of the international labor force led by women. This theme is examined from three aspects: a Philippine woman’s life history, work and life, and transnational relative networks.
“A”’s life history can be briefly summarized as follows. After graduating from a college in the Philippines, she came to Japan via Singapore as a maid at first and then found a clerical job. She has been employed as a clerical worker in a trading company for more than ten years now and has built up her career by her own strength and determination.
After obtaining a working visa, she called her husband in the Philippines, and asked him to join her in Japan. While she has been working as a permanent staff member, she has been bringing up her son as well. Initially, her mother, elder sister, and husband in the Philippines brought him up until he was one and a half years old.
“A”’s transnational network of relatives has expanded with the migration of her sisters to Japan and Canada. This transnational network and her Philippine relatives, have assisted in her career progression and made the hardship of living in Tokyo more bearable.
In this paper, I clarify two aspects of “Ethnoscape”(Appadurai: 1996). The first aspect is about a migrant woman’s life as a whole, moving social classes by changing job in spite of the double discrimination of gender and ethnicity. The second aspect is the transnational relative networks of migrant workers who help each other financially and with daily care. In the process of globalization, it is clear that transnational networks are essential for migrant women to obtain “information” and “security” to live with.