Tuesday, June 21, 2011

I've always been interested in the intersection of Filipino indigenous spirituality with christianity. Will start posting journal articles that I find on this subject on this blog. Here's one by Claudia Liebert on Filipino domestic workers in Israel and another one on Filipina workers in Saudi Arabia by Alicia Pingol. Another Liebert article here.

I'm also reading Karl Gaspar's two books on Filipino spirituality. In these two books, he writes about the need to reclaim Filipino indigenous belief systems and integrating them with the christian faith. Many Filipinos in his research work articulate this process of integration.

Liebert's The Footsteps Project, aims to change the stereotype of FIlipinos as the "servants of globalization" to that of workers able to develop inventive coping strategies as working class cosmopolitans in the global arena.

[Notes to self: I've said elsewhere that the ability of Filipina overseas workers to develop and deploy coping strategies, e.g., by framing their sojourn in spiritual/religious terms and in notions of sacrifice, doesn't belie the fact of their exploitation by the global capitalist structure. As liminal, post colonial subjects they are often unprotected by both the sending and receiving countries.]

Liebert: Our research has explored the role that Filipino religious congregations play in creating sociality, community and social networks among fellow migrants, both local and transnational; the ways these facilitate relations with their hosts; how faith may empower women negotiating status and identity within and beyond the workplace.
Above all, we have asked: what are the symbolic and experiential dimensions of belief re-discovered, practised and reinscribed in a sacred landscape? What kind of cultural capital does living in centres holy to Christianity and Islam give migrant returnees? Indeed, does religion affect their decision to work in particular countries, beyond economic considerations?
By describing their sojourns abroad in the idiom of sacrifice, suffering and sacred journeying, Filipina migrants situate their care giving work within a religious worldview of spiritual power and personal growth. Investigating these themes ethnographically, our research has aimed to challenge prevailing stereotypes of migrant Filipinas as ‘a nation of servants’, victims of an expanding capitalist labour market, and to reveal women’s agency in shaping their migration experiences.
Through their work and leisure, the project has found, Filipina migrants have forged an open if demotic working class cosmopolitanism. They engage positively with their new environment and the people they care for, inventively devising new coping and mobility strategies and building wide-ranging trust and support networks.

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