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Constructions of Filipina Migrant Entertainers

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While international labor migration from South and South-east Asia has received a considerable amount of attention in academic circles, a feminist discourse is largely ignored. This ignorance is reflected in a dearth of materials on women labor migrants, as well as explicit considerations of gender. Discussions of Filipina migrant entertainers commonly emphasize poverty as the primary determinant of their movement. Evidence does suggest that unemployment in the Philippines has contributed to their search for overseas employment. However, this discourse has kept hidden other institutionalized forms of oppression that continuously and simultaneously affect Filipina migrant entertainers. In particular, the concrete realities of their gender, race, and nationality have been replaced by a reductionist overemphasis on economic factors. Through an examination of government and private institutions engaged in the recruitment, deployment, regulation, and protection of overseas contract workers, I identify and deconstruct four controlling images of Filipina migrant entertainers: the Other; the prostitute; the willing victim; and the heroine. I argue that these reflect the observer's intention, objectives, and motives in addressing the situation of Filipina migrant entertainers. Specifically, these representations of Filipina migrant entertainers have been socially constructed to rationalize and justify the existing material conditions encountered by the women. This analysis transcends more traditional migration studies that focus predominantly on a single factor- economics-to the exclusion of other interrelated aspects, such as gender, race, and nationality. The discussion addresses the epistemological foundations of how the migration of Filipina entertainers is contextualized.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 1996

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