Rhacel Parrenas, Mobilizing Morality: Migrant Domestic Workers in Dubai


855 Sherbrooke Street West | Montréal, QC, H3A 2T7 , Leacock 738, CA

Rhacel Parrenas, Professor of Sociology, University of Southern California, and Fulbright Scholar, McMaster University Institute on Globalization & the Human Condition

Talk: Mobilizing Morality: Migrant Domestic Workers in Dubai

In this talk, I describe the labor conditions of Filipina migrant domestic workers in Dubai. While the talk calls attention to the indenture and absence of labor protection for domestic workers, it establishes and describes their labor conditions as falling under three prevailing cultural patterns: a) dehumanization; b) infantilization; c) recognition. This diversity questions the common view of domestic workers in Dubai as nothing-but abuse victims, an argument made by scholars who reduce our reading of the kafala (sponsorship) system to "structural violence." Countering the reduction of our understanding of domestic work to the structures that shape them, the talk argues that morals mediate market activities and result in a diversity of labor standards across households. The talk describes the process by which morals shape the labor conditions of domestic work.