Robyn Magalit Rodriguez, Migrants for Export: How the Philippine State Brokers Labor to the World.Robyn Magalit Rodriguez, Migrants for Export: How the Philippine State Brokers Labor to the World (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press The University of Minnesota Press is a university press that is part of the University of Minnesota. External link
A GROWING NUMBER of scholars have focused on the conditions and struggles of migrant workers, new immigrants and racialized communities in regard to globalization globalization
Process by which the experience of everyday life, marked by the diffusion of commodities and ideas, is becoming standardized around the world. Factors that have contributed to globalization include increasingly sophisticated communications and transportation , the reconstituting of capitalist relations and labour. Most of these studies have tended to focus upon the host countries in which they work. However, Rutgers University Rutgers University, main campus at New Brunswick, N.J.; land-grant and state supported; coeducational except for Douglass College; chartered 1766 as Queen's College, opened 1771. Campuses and Facilities
Rutgers maintains three campuses. sociologist Robyn Rodriguez applies ethnographic methods to study the Philippine state and the migration of Filipino workers, which highlights the roles that the state plays in preparing, mobilizing, sending and regulating its citizens for work abroad.
Almost 10 per cent of the Philippines' total population is employed in over two hundred countries across the world. Philippine citizens have come to be the most globalized workforce on the planet. Situating her analysis of the emergence of this system of state labour brokerage in a framework which attends to its historical antecedents of the US colonial labour system in the early 20th century, as well as the broader context of contemporary global capitalism, Rodriguez notes that "[s]everal institutional precursors to the contemporary labor brokerage state can be identified in the colonial labor system, including the expansion of training programs, the role of labor recruiters, and the role of the state in facilitating out-migration." (6) She describes how the process has become institutionalized and intrinsic to the Philippine state's neoliberal ne·o·lib·er·al·ism
A political movement beginning in the 1960s that blends traditional liberal concerns for social justice with an emphasis on economic growth.
ne logic, its marketing strategies aimed at host countries and employers, and the ways in which it encourages sustained linkages between overseas workers and the Philippines. The Philippine state, Rodriguez contends, has reconfigured and redefined citizenship, rearticulating ideas of nationalism and national belonging for the purposes of brokering labour to the world. This construction of citizenship fosters a sense of national belonging through migration. Indeed, migrant workers are held up as 'bagong bayani'--new heroes--who must dutifully du·ti·ful
1. Careful to fulfill obligations.
2. Expressing or filled with a sense of obligation.
du sacrifice to send remittances back to the Philippines.
Rodriguez vividly illustrates how workers are reduced to commodities to be bartered and traded globally: "As a labor broker the Philippine state gives over its citizens' livelihoods to the vagaries of global labor markets even as it expects them to support their loved ones who themselves are subject to the precariousness of everyday life under conditions of neoliberal globalization in the Philippines." (27) Her book exposes and analyzes the sophisticated mechanisms, structures and disciplines through which the Philippine state exports workers. The Philippine state's transnational migration bureaucracy includes state-created training and education programs such as TESDA TESDA Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Philippines) (Technical Education and Skills Development Authority) to prepare Filipinas and Filipinos to meet demands of specific labour markets across the world, from Fiji to Florida, and all points in between. Meanwhile, official agencies such as the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration and the International Labor Affairs Service generate and monitor immigration immigration, entrance of a person (an alien) into a new country for the purpose of establishing permanent residence. Motives for immigration, like those for migration generally, are often economic, although religious or political factors may be very important. intelligence, collecting data on trends in immigration policies, monitoring trends (and projections of future trends) in labour markets, as well as drawing on racialized and gendered logics in order to be able to effectively market workers to foreign employers and governments. Rodriguez highlights the gendered dimensions of exporting migrant workers, as women workers (especially those out-migrating as domestics) began to outpace the out-migration of male workers from the Philippines.
In a neocolonial, neoliberal state like the Philippines, labour brokerage functions to address the failures of so-called 'development.' "It is a peculiar kind of 'trickle up' development as individual migrants' earnings abroad become a source of foreign capital for the Philippine state." (xviii) Indeed, drawing on evidence from interviews with officials and official policy documents, Rodriguez contends that labour brokerage and export is part of an explicit strategy which attempts to contain the social impacts of neoliberal globalization and act as a safety valve safety valve, device attached to a boiler or other vessel for automatically relieving the pressure of steam before it becomes great enough to cause bursting. to limit the growth of militant social movements This is a partial list of social movements.
Rodriguez exposes the contradictions between claims that the government safeguards the rights of migrant workers and its interests in sustaining outflows of migrant workers. Indeed the state uses repatriation Repatriation
The process of converting a foreign currency into the currency of one's own country.
If you are American, converting British Pounds back to U.S. dollars is an example of repatriation. and other disciplinary actions such as sanctions against workers, who are viewed as threats to the Philippines' relations with host countries and foreign employers. She shows how Philippine embassies and consular staff play an active role in constituting migrant workers as a privileged community with a special set of obligations to send remittances to the Philippines. The limits and contradictions of the rights which the Philippine government supposedly extends and protects to its citizens who labour overseas are vividly explored in a chapter on Filipina and Filipino workers in Brunei. Here (as she does throughout the book) Rodriguez draws from archival research of Philippine government documents, interviews with Philippine migration bureaucrats and migrant workers, ethnographic observations of the migration bureaucracy and research in Brunei to investigate how the Philippine government intervened in a strike by hundreds of Filipina and Filipino garment workers in 2001.
Rodriguez writes accessibly and engagingly, deftly linking 'big picture' analysis of international political economy, geopolitics geopolitics, method of political analysis, popular in Central Europe during the first half of the 20th cent., that emphasized the role played by geography in international relations. , and the reconfiguration of the state with the micropolitics of the actual practices and lived experiences of the everyday, mundane bureaucratic processes and actions which govern them. In this way, attending to both policy and legislative frameworks which regulate and authorize the lives of migrant workers, as well as the micro-politics of power, the book is a richly textured critical ethnographic study.
The Philippine state has arguably developed the most advanced, sophisticated model for transnationalizing labour brokerage as an institutional form. It plays a key role in promoting the liberalization lib·er·al·ize
v. lib·er·al·ized, lib·er·al·iz·ing, lib·er·al·iz·es
To make liberal or more liberal: "Our standards of private conduct have been greatly liberalized . . . of mobility of labour through regional and multilateral trade, investment and economic forums such as ASEAN ASEAN: see Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
in full Association of Southeast Asian Nations
International organization established by the governments of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand in and APEC, and is now a key player in UN initiated "Global Forum on Migration and Development." It is held up as a model for migration management to other labour-exporting countries such as Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, and China. The book points the way forward for further country-specific studies.
Rodriguez's work is informed by, and grounded in, her own critical engagement with migrant justice movement networks. The book's final chapter turns to a discussion of how, through mobilization and movement-building in networks like MIGRANTE. or the newly-formed International Migrants' Alliance, migrant workers are confronting capital and state power in struggles for justice and dignity in both labour-sending and labour-receiving countries, as well as constituting important forces within broader national and international struggles for social change. Through their activism, migrant workers and their organizations also contest the concepts of rights and citizenship promoted by the Philippine state, what Rodriguez calls "a radical revisioning of citizenship based on a noncapitalist order." (151)
Migrants for Export is not only an important contribution to scholarship on migration and labour. It also challenges analyses which suggest that states are no longer significant players in a globalized and transnational world. This book deserves to be read in a wide range of disciplines at university and college levels, as well as by organizers and activists involved in immigration and labour (in) justice struggles.