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A Transnational Perspective on Divorce and Marriage: Filipina Wives and Workers

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Building on the burgeoning literature on gender and transnationalism, this article considers how Filipina women's labor and marriage migrations are intertwined in complex and paradoxical ways with global, local, and personal factors. Central to the article are the stories of two women, one a Filipina overseas contract worker in Hong Kong and the other a Filipina in the Philippines who sought to meet a foreign marriage partner through correspondence. These stories illustrate how, because of the absence of divorce in the Philippines, women creatively maneuver across transnational terrain in order to realize their desired marital subjectivities. These stories point to women's agency and to the importance of structural factors-particularly legal ones-that both constrain women and yet simultaneously allow them to creatively utilize legal inconsistencies across transnational spaces to redefine themselves as wives and to reclaim a "respectable" marital status. In contrast to the common assumption that women marry foreign men in order to migrate or primarily for material gain, this article argues that-in at least some cases-migration can also serve as a means to attain the valued goal of (re)marriage.
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Keywords: transmigration, Filipino overseas workers, marriage, divorce

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Anthropology, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA

Publication date: April 1, 2003

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