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This paper discusses how Philippine transnational marriage migration is intertwined in complex and paradoxical ways with global, local and personal matters. My argument will blur the artificial and still dominant analytical division between marriage migrants (wives or "mail order"brides) and labour migrants (workers - mainly domestic workers). Focusing on the life histories of different Filipina women, the paper illustrates the intersections and multiplicity of their roles as wives, mistresses, workers, mothers, daughters and citizens in a transnational migratory space. Furthermore, I go along with those scholars who argue that women do not only marry in order to migrate, but that they also migrate in order to marry, as marriage is seen as an important aspect of social fulfilment. By carefully investigating these emerging transnational or even global marriage-scapes, I analyze the different motives, logics and desires that come into play. While women from the Philippines may look for "modern husbands" and "modern marriages" because of local constraints on their marriage opportunities, many western men turn to Asia and the Philippines for "traditional" wives whom they imagine to be more "conservative" and "less demanding." Both often discover that their gender stereotypes are more imagined than real. The stories illustrate how Filipina migrants use different socio-cultural and socio-economic situations across transnational space - and at times against local gender constructions - in order to renegotiate and reclaim a respectable and desired marital status. On the one hand, these women are subject to manifold localised, legal and religious-moral definitions as women and wives. On the other hand, they creatively and actively utilise structural differences and new opportunities across transnational space to redefine themselves. The stories thus show both the women's agency and the importance of structural factors. © Journal compilation
Philippine Women on the Move:
Marriage across Borders
Andrea Lauser*
This paper discusses how Philippine transnational marriage migration is
intertwined in complex and paradoxical ways with global, local and per-
sonal matters. My argument will blur the artificial and still dominant ana-
lytical division between marriage migrants (wives or ‘‘mail order’’ brides)
and labour migrants (workers mainly domestic workers). Focusing on
the life histories of different Filipina women, the paper illustrates the inter-
sections and multiplicity of their roles as wives, mistresses, workers, moth-
ers, daughters and citizens in a transnational migratory space.
Furthermore, I go along with those scholars who argue that women do not
only marry in order to migrate, but that they also migrate in order to marry,
as marriage is seen as an important aspect of social fulfilment. By carefully
investigating these emerging transnational or even global marriage-scapes, I
analyze the different motives, logics and desires that come into play. While
women from the Philippines may look for ‘‘modern husbands’’ and ‘‘mod-
ern marriages’’ because of local constraints on their marriage opportunities,
many western men turn to Asia and the Philippines for ‘‘traditional’’ wives
whom they imagine to be more ‘‘conservative’’ and ‘‘less demanding.’’ Both
often discover that their gender stereotypes are more imagined than real.
The stories illustrate how Filipina migrants use different socio-cultural and
socio-economic situations across transnational space – and at times against
local gender constructions – in order to renegotiate and reclaim a respect-
able and desired marital status. On the one hand, these women are subject
to manifold localised, legal and religious-moral definitions as women and
wives. On the other hand, they creatively and actively utilise structural dif-
ferences and new opportunities across transnational space to redefine
themselves. The stories thus show both the women’s agency and the impor-
tance of structural factors.
* Georg-August-University Go
¨ttingen, Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology.
2008 The Author
Published by Blackwell Publishing Ltd., Journal Compilation 2008 IOM
9600 Garsington Road, Oxford OX4 2DQ, UK, International Migration Vol. 46 (4) 2008
and 350 Main Street, Malden, MA 02148, USA. ISSN 0020-7985
We [Filipinos] are now a quasi-wandering people, pilgrims or prospectors
staking our lives and futures all over the world – in the Middle East, Africa,
Europe, North and South America, Australia and all of Asia; in every nook
and cranny of this seemingly godforsaken earth.
San Juan, Jr., 1998
Within the field of migration studies, the Philippines are known as a
‘‘place of origin’’ of marriage migrants as well as labour migrants (Par-
˜as, 2001; Constable, 2004a). Of the approximately 190,000 Filipinos
married to foreigners, over 90 per cent are women. The United States
and Japan are the most preferred destinations for Filipina marriage-
immigration. Compared with the large percentage (30% to 40%) of for-
eign partners from these countries, Germany, with approximately 4 per
ce t, is comparatively marginal in terms of Filipina marriage migration
(Commission on Filipino Overseas, 2004). Considering the historical,
colonial and postcolonial ties between the Philippines and the countries
of destination, this geographic distribution of the foreign partners is not
Informed by an anthropology of transnational spaces (Glick-Schiller
et al., 1995; Basch et al., 1994; Kearney, 1995; Levitt and Glick Schiller,
2004; Ong, 1999; Vertovec, 2004) and following Arjun Appadurai who
offers a framework for examining the ‘‘new global cultural economy as
a complex, overlapping, disjunctive order that cannot any longer be
understood in terms of existing centre-periphery models’’ (Appadurai,
1996: 32), I will look at expanding forms of female marriage migration.
Corresponding to Appadurai¢s conceptual metaphor of ‘‘scape’’ (Appad-
urai, 1991; 1995) I understand the transnational marriage ‘‘landscape’’
as a site – a marriage-scape. This site is not ‘‘fixed’’ as a typical land-
scape might be, but rather, depending on context and perspective, it is
of various, disjunctive sizes, amorphous and flowing. Marriage-scapes
are shaped and limited by existing and emerging cultural, social, histori-
cal and politico-economical factors. They are also shaped by what Pes-
sar and Mahler (2001: 5) called the ‘‘gendered geographies of power’’
which inform all transnational migration. As they note, ‘‘gender oper-
ates simultaneously on multiple spatial and social scales (e.g. the body,
the family, the state) across transnational terrains. It is both within the
context of particular scales as well as between and among them that
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gender ideologies and relations are reaffirmed, reconfigured or both’’
(Pessar and Mahler, 2001: 5).
With this theoretical framework in mind, my paper discusses how Phil-
ippine transnational marriage migration is intertwined in complex and
paradoxical ways with global, local and personal matters. Empirically,
this paper draws upon long-term and multi-sited ethnographic research
both in Germany (between 1993–1996) and in the Philippines (between
1996–1998) (Lauser, 2003; 2004; 2005a; 2005b). Since ethnographic texts
are symphonic products created at the interfaces between the ethnogra-
pher, the people interacted with, and the texts of previous and present
ethnographers and theoreticians, I feel strongly encouraged and
approved by those scholars who question dominant (but narrow) catego-
ries in migration theory and carefully reflect gendered patterns of migra-
tion. In this spirit, Nicole Constable’s findings on Philippine and
Chinese marriage migration to the United States (Constable, 2003a;
2003b; 2004a; 2004b) parallel my own data collected mainly in Germany
and the Philippines at about the same time. It is the issue of Philippine
marriage migration that has led us to very similar perspectives.
Marriage migration, being both a moving practice (migration) and a local-
ised resource of meaning, demands an approach based on an anthropolog-
ical study of ‘‘travelling cultures’’ implying both routes and roots,
mobility and stasis (in James Clifford’s (1997) terms). In this sense, my
fieldwork methodology was multi-dimensional and multi-sited, moving (at
least in terms of awareness of the multi-vocal dimensions) between public
and private spheres of activity, from official to ‘‘subaltern’’ informal con-
texts – and in a very literal sense from one place to another. Such a multi-
sited ethnographic research strategy ‘‘is designed around chains, paths,
threads, conjunctions, or juxtapositions of locations in which the ethnog-
rapher establishes some form of literal, physical presence with an explicit,
posited logic of association or connection among sites that in fact defines
the argument of ethnography’’ (Marcus, 1998: 90).
The related methodological device is ‘‘to follow’’, as Marcus (1998: 90)
goes on: ‘‘To follow the people, to follow the things, the metaphors, to
follow the life or biography, to follow the conflicts and stories’’ (Lauser,
2005a; 2005b). For this research, I practiced a person-centered approach
of following people, and through participating in their daily life activi-
ties, I got involved in casual conversations and gossip and learned about
life stories, conflicts, metaphors and other relevant issues. I followed this
with hour-long in-depth open-ended interviews with marriage migrants
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from the Philippines and members of their transnational families.
Detailed narratives and descriptions are presented elsewhere (Lauser,
2003; 2004).
Building on these ethnographic descriptions of both local constraints of
marriage opportunities and dreams of transnational romance, my analysis
emphasises the diverse ways in which Philippine women may renegotiate
their options within a transnational migratory space, thus blurring the
boundaries usually applied to categorised forms of migration such as
‘‘marriage’’, ‘‘family strategies’’, ‘‘reunification’’ or ‘‘contract work’’ by
challenging the dominant artificial analytical division between marriage
migrants (wives) and labour migrants (workers), the multiplicity of roles
as wives, mistresses, workers, mothers, daughters and citizens in a transna-
tional migratory space and the intersections are analysed (McKay, 2003).
Whereas Philippine transnational marriage-scapes fit the pattern of
brides from a poor country and grooms from richer ones, I want to
stress that such migrations are not only shaped by economic geographies
but also by geographies or ‘‘sites of desire’’ (Manderson and Jolly, 1997)
that follow their own cultural logics (Constable, 2004b). Thus, Filipina
women form their own identities within colonial histories that privilege
a particular form of Americanised modernity and imaginary of romantic
love (Cannell, 1999; Rafael, 2000; Constable, 2003a; Lauser, 2004: 174).
‘‘American’’ men – a category that includes all ‘‘Caucasian’’ or ‘‘Wes-
tern’’ men – are imagined as good providers, romantic lovers and, unlike
Filipinos, men who do not keep mistresses. Similarly, the logics or fanta-
sies that might support the desire of ‘‘Caucasian’’ men for Asian women
are a product of colonial and postcolonial histories. Filipinas are
described and imagined as more ‘‘traditional’’, ‘‘old-fashioned’’ and
committed to family values on the one hand, and less demanding and
liberated on the other. The underlying paradox of such marriages is that
the men seek a traditional wife while the women hope for more modern
husbands and marriages than they may find in their homeland.
One of the women whose stories I will present – Lilia – is a single, mid-
dle-class professional in Manila looking for a ‘‘Western’’ husband on
the internet. She is already in her thirties and seems to know quite well
what kind of marriage she does not want. Moving between ‘‘modern’’
and ‘‘traditional’’ images, values and lifestyles, she is nonetheless afraid
of becoming a so-called ‘‘old maid’’ (matandang dalaga). Another
woman – Delia – is married to a German and lives in Germany. She
reflects on her past life as ‘‘kerida’’ or ‘‘querida’’
– that is, an unmarried
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‘‘second wife’’ or a kind of mistress - of a Filipino man. The third –
Melinda – is a widow with children. She asked her cousin to arrange a
transnational (re)marriage for her. These and other marriage histories
illustrate how Filipina migrants make more or less active use of different
socio-cultural and socio-economic situations across transnational space
in order to renegotiate and reclaim a respectable and desired marital sta-
tus. On the one hand, these women are subject to manifold localised,
legal and religious-moral definitions as women and wives while at the
same time they creatively use structural differences and new opportuni-
ties across transnational space to redefine themselves.
Exploring the processes of belonging, identity formation and ‘‘migran-
cy’’ (that is, the complex subjectivities of migrants produced through
their experiences of multiple and contrasting places) by means of narra-
tives, life stories, experiences and feelings opens up new questions for
migration research, among them the dynamics of simultaneity (Levitt
and Glick-Schiller, 2004). Living between the ‘‘old’’ and the ‘‘new’’, the
‘‘here’’ and ‘‘there’’, between homes and between languages, (trans)-
migrants do not merely insert, incorporate or assimilate themselves into
existing places, they transform these spaces and create new ones, such as
the ‘‘space between’’ (Bhabha, 1994). In the application of these con-
cepts, we can begin to understand how people – in this case Filipina
migrants – shift their positions according to particular contexts. In some
situations they may fix their identities, appearing to adhere to a given
sets of traditions and essentialised cultural norms, while in others they
identify themselves as something more hybrid or complex. The elaborate
stories told by migrants themselves can reveal these diverse subject posi-
tions – at the intersections of gender, class and ethnicity – and how they
read modernity in particular ways from the point of view of these posi-
tions (Lawson, 2000).
This brings us to a point rarely discussed in academic accounts of trans-
national migration. Movement between places separated by thousands
of miles involves a range of imaginations and emotions. People who
relocate carry with them not only their physical belongings but also their
memories and people who stay behind are nevertheless involved in the
experience of transnationalism, especially a kind of ‘‘emotional transna-
tionalism’’ (Appadurai 1996: 3; Gardner, 2002; Parren
˜as, 2005). These
feelings, so hard to study for an outsider, lie at the heart of the transna-
tional experience, a complex that has been dubbed ‘‘transnationalism
from below’’ (Smith and Guarnizo, 1998).
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With this in mind, the narratives will show both the women’s agency
and the importance of structural factors. They will also show that Filip-
inas do not only marry in order to migrate (as those scholars who see
marriage above all as an economic passage to the rich West suggest –
see for example
rung/artikel/051006.htm; Niesner et al., 1997; Mu
¨ller- Schneider, 2000);
on the contrary, because marriage is seen as an important aspect of
social fulfilment, I chime with Constable (2003b: 164) in arguing that
they ‘‘migrate in order to accomplish the desired goal of marriage.’’ I
start from the fact that labour migration is never simply economic and
that marriage migration is motivated not only by ‘‘private’’ or individual
concerns. Rather, migration is always political and deeply interwoven
with personal, familial, local and global factors. Before presenting the
stories of the individual women who feel attracted by ‘‘transnational
desires’’, I briefly sketch local Philippine gender construction which has
been described as a ‘‘double standard in male and female sexual prac-
tices’’ (Yu and Liu, 1980: 179-202; Parren
˜as, 2001: 68), with particular
disadvantages for women whose relationships or marriages have failed.
At the same time a high priority is given to having children and being
married, while an unmarried woman is seen as ‘‘incomplete.’’
One perspective in understanding male-female relationships is to look at
legal infrastructure and everyday practice. Both the Philippine state and
the Philippine Catholic Church officially prohibit divorce. According to
the Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines, ‘‘marriage [as] an
inviolable social institution is the foundation of the family and shall be
protected by the State’’ (Jones, 2002 cited in Constable, 2003b: 165).
This ‘‘protection’’ forbids legal divorce (except under certain circum-
stances, if the marriage is not consummated, for example) and protects
the inheritance rights of illegitimate children. Since legal separation or
annulment are difficult and expensive to obtain and are normally not
available to ordinary people, formal separations are few and remarriage
is rare. ‘‘The absence of divorce and the difficulty in obtaining an annul-
ment, however, does not mean that couples remain in monogamous con-
jugal relationships for life’’ (Constable, 2003b: 165). Separations and
abandoned spouses are common and consensual marriage arrangements
(that is, common-law cohabitation without legal status) widespread
among lower-class people. Such arrangements are usually accepted in
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the neighbourhood as long as neither the man nor the woman is promis-
cuous and as long as they live harmoniously (Medina, 1991: 104). How-
ever, conjugal relationships – as well as potential separations and
extramarital relations – have different implications for men and women.
They reflect the double standards in male and female sexual practices
noted earlier (Yu and Liu, 1980; Parren
˜as, 2001). Thus, whereas women
are theoretically expected to be virgins at marriage, men are not. In
other words, men should be sexually experienced before marriage,
whereas women should not, otherwise they risk being stigmatised as mis-
tresses. Having a second wife outside of marriage is so widely practiced
by Filipino men that one has to speak of a triangular (triadic) querida
system (Yu and Liu, 1980; see also Lauser 2004: 215).
A man may establish a separate household with a mistress. This practice
is not stigmatised as long as he does not neglect his responsibilities
towards his legal family. Men who have mistresses and who maintain
their economic responsibilities for more than one household may even
be admired for being a ‘‘real man’’ (pagkakalaki) and for conforming to
a macho image of masculinity. As long as a man remains responsible
for his wife and the familial situation, he need not fear legal sanctions.
Thus, a querida relationship allows men relief from an unhappy or insuf-
ferable marital relationship and may even be seen as restraining a domi-
neering wife’s manner, because if she does not try hard to be a good
wife, she may lose him to another woman.
From the wife’s point of view, the querida system threatens the security of
her legally contracted and socially recognised marriage union. Women
whose marriages have failed are pitied and even blamed for not maintain-
ing their husband’s interest, since it is considered the wife’s duty to hold
the marriage together. Besides being emotionally humiliated, it is in her
interest as the manager of the family budget to put a stop to her husband’s
liaison. By insisting on this responsibility, the wife also reinforces her
claim to her husband. By performing her duties as a wife, it is far easier to
rally her kinsmen and those of her husband to her side. A man who cannot
support his legal family is viewed as irresponsible despite the image of
masculinity he may serve with having a mistress. By Filipino standards, a
good wife is someone who protects the interests of her husband and who
manages the household and children efficiently. There are no restrictions
on wives who want to work, as long they do not neglect their duties as out-
lined above. In other words, if a wife’s activities are in accordance with
keeping her husband, home and children in good order and foster the fam-
ily’s advancement, she is free to do almost anything.
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From the perspective of a querida, the relationship does not only mean
emotional involvement but also financial support (which can mean a
great deal of privilege and conspicuous consumption). Although the role
of a mistress is not valued very highly, the stigma of being a mistress
can be mitigated if a woman is successful with regard to social mobility.
Once children are born, the querida relationship is stabilised, since the
children are legally those of the querido. Thus, a pregnancy – however
shameful it is – might have useful consequences. Having children with
her querido is the best way to forge a commitment. If he leaves her for
another woman querida, she will at least have legitimate economic
claims as the mother of his children as the law protects their children,
notwithstanding their illegitimacy (Yu and Liu, 1980). The querida is
regarded as a second wife by her partner and her social circle and in
many cases the mistress is preferred over the wife of the querido because
the former is regarded as a better ‘‘wife’’ to a man than the latter. There
is usually much rivalry between a querida and the wife, centring not only
on sexuality but also on cooking and taking care of the husband.
Although querida families are not legally accepted by the Philippines’
predominantly Catholic society, the mistress still considers herself as her
partner’s wife, thus often resulting in conflicts with the legitimate wife.
In a country where divorce is not permitted and legal separation barely
realizable, the querida system (with these different perspectives of hus-
bands, wives and queridas) has a paradoxical two-fold function: it simul-
taneously undermines and strengthens the institution of marriage (and
the family) in the Philippines. By granting men a kind of sexual free-
dom, and by imposing obstacles to obtaining a legal divorce, the law
ensures the permanence of legally contracted marriages, thereby guaran-
teeing the stability of the family system. It forces men to remain
‘‘accountable’’ to their wives, but at the same time allows them extra-
marital relationships. The querida being without a valid marriage con-
tract quickly realises that having children with her querido is the best
way of forging a commitment. The law, after all, protects her children,
notwithstanding their illegitimacy. And the legally married wife has to
live with this unequal double standard by fulfilling her wifely duty.
In as much as the Philippines is a Catholic country where marriage is
considered a sacrament and where sexual mores are restrictive, legal
marriage and a church ceremony remain the preferred and most highly
valued form of formalizing male-female unions. However, although the
state aims to keep families together by prohibiting divorce, the lack of
divorce is in fact one factor that motivates women to go abroad to work
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and to escape bad marriages and unhappy relationships and even to
look for new legal opportunities of divorce and remarriage (Constable,
2003b). Transnational marriage migration presents an alternative for
those women unhappy with the querida system or who have been aban-
doned by their husbands. The alternative may be imagined as an escape
and may even be experienced as a liberation from a troubled relation-
ship without really breaking with conventional ideologies and frames of
gender constructions.
Thus, marriage migration is deeply inspired by the hope of reconciling
conflicting gender roles that are sometimes difficult to negotiate and
articulate. On the one hand, marriage migrants – especially those who
are still single – pursue on the one hand the prospect of starting their
own families. On the other hand and at the same time – marriage
migration is a means of meeting the cultural norm of ‘‘depths of grati-
tude’’ (utang na loob) and of gendered responsibilities towards their pri-
mary families by supporting the older generation (their parents).
Furthermore, marriage migration enables the social mobility of younger
siblings through remittances.
The following narratives of different women present the reasons and
motives behind the rejection of local men and local marriage prospects
as well as the hopes connected with marriage migration. Some women,
like Delia and Melinda, are considered less marriageable by local stan-
dards, because they are unwed single mothers or because they are
known to have had previous ‘‘romantic’’ involvements (affairs) or com-
mon law marriages. Other women are less desirable on the local mar-
riage scene due to their age or their status as a widow. These are some
of the factors that contribute to a Filipina’s decision to look for a part-
ner abroad. I begin with Lilia’s story, a single woman in her early thir-
ties who had previously migrated from the countryside to the capital of
Manila in order to study and find decent work.
When I first met Lilia in Manila, she was working as an interpreter, tea-
cher and assistant for various international development agencies. Her
employers were mostly from western (European) countries. They resided
in Manila’s rich ‘‘villages’’
with a high standard of living, and they
talked quite openly with Lilia about life, relationships, their future and
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so on. Exposed to these foreign cultures and transnational connections,
Lilia found herself attracted to the international and cosmopolitan life-
styles and envisioned a similar future for herself.
‘‘You know’’, she told me one day, ‘‘I have an European pen pal. I
found him on the internet. We have been corresponding for a couple of
months – and almost every day! His mails are so nice and sensitive’’.
She went on in rapture, ‘‘When I tell him about a book I liked, or a
movie I’ve seen, you know, the next week he has read it or seen it and
we philosophise on it. He is so understanding!’’ After a short pause she
continued, ‘‘He will travel now to the Philippines to visit me! What do
you think? Will he propose to me? Should I marry him?’’
When I asked her about her motivations for marrying a foreign man,
she told me that she had already been as good as engaged to a Filipino
man, but that she was not convinced of this arrangement made by her
parents in accordance with convention.
She could not respect this man
who pretended to be a macho and dominant personality. In reality,
however, he was not a worthy person but somebody who was quick-
tempered, jealous (siya ang laging highblood) and not able to live in an
equal partnership of mutual understanding.
Disapproving of conventional gender role ascriptions, Lilia was looking
for a more ‘‘modern’’ and ‘‘equal’’ family life and conjugal relationship.
Corresponding with the construction of America and the West in gen-
eral as a desired ‘‘outside’’ (Rafael, 2000) in the ‘‘neo- and postcolonial’’
context of the Philippines, foreign men are imagined as more romantic
and open-minded than Filipino men. Life with a western man promised
to fulfil her desires for ‘‘modernity.’’ Although Lilia was living in an
urban, ‘‘modern’’ context where she was able to earn a good salary and
support her family back home in the countryside, she still felt trapped in
the old-fashioned image of being an ‘‘old maid’’ (matandang dalaga).
Being in her early thirties and unmarried made her feel like an ‘‘incom-
plete woman’’ who was not able to find the right man. On the one hand,
she was afraid she would never have the opportunity to marry and raise
a family of her own. On the other hand, she was not willing to give up
her wish to find a husband who suited her well. She was longed to be a
wife and mother, and she did not question the common idea that chil-
dren are a blessing, a gift of God and that they would bring her happi-
ness. A marriage with a well educated and wealthy ‘‘Caucasian’’ would
fulfil her aspirations and dreams of a life as a respected wife and mother
as well as a member of the privileged middle class.
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In this special case, however, Lilia’s virtual aspirant from Switzerland
turned out to be a huge disappointment. Later on, she realised that on
his trip to the Philippines, he had visited not only herself but other Fil-
ipina pen pals as well. By coming to the Philippines and challenging his
own imaginations about the ‘‘paradise in the South Sea’’, these became
deconstructed and he was unable to make a decision.
Delia had been married to a German husband for 10 years when I met
her in Germany. The reason for our first encounter was that both of us
had to make a statement in court on the occasion of the divorce pro-
ceedings of a Filipina we both knew. Delia was touched by this stirring
separation story, which probably called her own sad story to her mind.
‘‘You know, Andrea, it was my most serious aim in life to be a married
woman, to be a wife!’’ she told me, explaining why she could not really
understand the decision of her friend to get divorced from her unfaithful
but otherwise tolerant German husband.
In the Philippines, Delia herself had been the ‘‘second wife’’ – the queri-
da – of an already married Filipino. Before she met this older man and
fell in love with him, she had lived a carefree life, as she emphasised. It
was not poverty or the hardships of life that made her be attracted to
that man, but love. Later she had to admit that this love had been naive
and romantic and that she had been blinded by it (bulag sa ibig). Her
querido had supported her generously. She had lived in an apartment in
a provincial capital and had given birth to two children (a daughter and
a son). She had tried hard to discover his needs, which put her in keen
competition with his wife
, and she had longed for the day when she
would be the only one to attract his attention. After a couple of years,
however, this man lost interest in her and their children and began
another querida relationship. Delia felt shocked and torn between ‘‘vol-
anger and depression. Personally humiliated and locally stigma-
tised as a querida with children, she began to organise an escape from
this failed relation by moving to the global (marriage) scene. Since this
happened in the early 1980s long before the internet age, she used con-
ventional pen pal agencies and other informal migration networks to
look for a ‘‘Western’’ husband, hoping to be able to leave her troubled
relationship behind. To her, a respectable marriage with a church wed-
ding was the most important sign for regaining her damaged honour
and to be rehabilitated (Constable, 2003). After exchanging a couple of
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letters, she finally chose her German husband, this time with her right
mind (instead of her blind heart). She was convinced of his introduction
as a successful engineer and she liked the enclosed pictures.
For her first three years in Germany, her two children remained in the
Philippines with kin caregivers.
With marriage (migration), she easily
received a legal working permit in Germany (otherwise known for its
restrictive migration policy). In addition to taking care of her own
household (which included her mother-in-law, who was in need of care),
she worked as a caregiver at a retirement home. Although she was a
proud wife, she felt unhappy with her husband (who was impotent and
very reserved) and homesick for her children. As a mother and a mar-
riage migrant at the same time, she became a transnational mother for a
time. Because of the physical distance that kept her from performing her
‘‘labour’’ of love and care for her children, she now displayed her love
through letters, phone calls and money earned in her paid care-giving
work. Similar to the findings of Rhacel Parren
˜as (2001), she equated her
love and motherhood with money and relied on expensive gifts and gen-
erous remittances (also Hondagneu-Sotelo and Avila, 1997).
Delia was absolutely determined to stay married, even when she realised
that she would not have children with her husband and that their mar-
riage would not be consummated. She convinced her husband to adopt
her two children and to take (kuha) them to Germany. Delia noted of
this patchwork situation:
Our family life was not uncomplicated. At the beginning, my children
had not been as happy as I wished. They missed the warm and lively
family life of the Philippines. They missed their cousins, aunts and
uncles, and their grandmother. I could not replace them, nor could we
afford to take them all to Germany. ... Okay, now we try to make our
life here and there. You see, my son is not yet 18 years old and he
moved to his German girlfriend’s home to ‘‘live-in’’ ... and my daughter
is fighting with me. ...
Delia’s marriage migration is not to be told like a fairy tale. It is not as
happy as she would have wished. She had not found the real ‘‘love
story’’ she was longing for but, at least, she had found a settled marital
This sketch shows that mothering can not be seen in isolation from
other familial or caring relationships. By considering the bilateral family
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relationships (including cousins and aunts and uncles), discourses on the
primacy of the mother-child dyad are put into perspective. Delia’s case
shows that extended family networks are instrumental in facilitating
(enabling) the migration process by providing support in terms of child-
care. This pattern fits quite well with traditional kinship relations and
obligations. As ethnographic studies of the Philippines have shown, in
both rural and urban contexts, housework and childcare are often per-
formed in a wider social framework of extended-family members and
neighbours (see for example Jocano, 1969; Trager, 1988; Illo, 1995). In
the logic of (German) state immigration legislation, however, the nuclear
family is the only family type recognised for purposes of immigration
despite the role of extended family ties as significant support networks
for marriage migrants such as Delia. The disruption of these extended-
family relations in everyday life constituted the most obvious break for
Delia’s children.
Finally, it is necessary to note that it is not only women who have sto-
ries of transnational mobility and transmigration. The lives of Western
husbands are involved in transnational familial spaces as well, even if
they do not move physically. From the very beginning of their marriage
with Filipina wives, Western husbands must live with their wives’ dense
family networks that link them to other Filipinos and Filipinas in Ger-
many, as well as transnationally to others settled in Europe and else-
where, and finally back to the Philippines. Telephones, including mobile
phones, serve as a constant means of communication. Visits within Ger-
many are very frequent and are occasions where videotapes of social
events ‘‘here’’ and ‘‘there’’ are exchanged and audiotapes put in circula-
tion. These kinds of everyday interchanges develop and maintain a sense
of Filipino life in Germany and the diaspora and, vice versa, a ‘‘German
connection’’ in the Philippines. The Western men have little chance of
avoiding or preventing the development of these relationships; they are
forced to at least accept them, if not embrace them actively, as the next
narrative also demonstrates.
Marriage migration is not only constructed as an alternative to divorce.
It serves as a vision of remarriage for those who are mothers and mid-
dle-aged widows, too. In Melinda’s case, before her marriage migration
to Germany in the mid-1990s, she was living – as the youngest daughter
– in a rural household with her widowed mother and her six-year-old
Philippine women on the move 97
2008 The Author
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son. Her husband had abandoned her shortly after their marriage
because of another woman and had left (the province of) Mindanao to
live elsewhere in the Philippines. Although Melinda was permanently
separated from her husband – she did not even know his actual where-
abouts – she was still formally considered married (by the standards of
the church and of the Philippine legal system). For this reason she could
not officially marry her next ‘‘husband’’ (asawa, kinakasama) with whom
she lived in a common-law marriage. Gender-balanced households, espe-
cially in the country (sa bukid), are seen as normal; couples who decide
to live together as man and wife and perform the functions of a ‘‘real’’
married couple are quite accepted.
‘‘Fate’’ however, took its course and after a couple of years, Melinda
lost this man too. He was killed while fighting insurgents. ‘‘Life is hard
and you have to make sacrifices (mahirap ang buhay kaya nga kailangan
ko magmatir!)’’ These words repeatedly framed Melinda’s story like a
refrain. After this stroke of fate, Melinda’s marital state could be char-
acterised as a ‘‘widow by heart’’ and an ‘‘abandoned wife by law’’. With
time, Melinda was persuaded to begin a pen pal relationship although
her older sister (who had also been abandoned with children) and her
cousin took on the task of writing and reading the letters for her. After
a year of correspondence, Stefan, Melinda’s German future husband, set
off to the Philippines to propose to her. He also wanted to find out if he
could find a ‘‘place like paradise’’ for his retirement.
Stefan had been married to a German woman, but the marriage broke
up after the collapse of his business. He blamed his wife for the failure
of the marriage because she left him with their almost grown children.
After a brief relationship with another German woman, he turned to
Asian women as a desirable alternative because of their perceived family
values and gender roles. He hoped and believed that an Asian woman
would be more committed to make a marriage work. In our discussions,
Melinda repeatedly emphasised that she was sacrificing herself for her
(extended) family
by marrying Stefan, hinting at an ambivalent coun-
ter-argument to the impression that the (re-)marriage could also be an
adventure and an exciting experiment for her. In the traditional dis-
course on (attractive) women in the Philippines, the seductive and sexual
female is usually young and unmarried, not middle-aged, separated or
widowed. Women like Melinda are not supposed to express sexual
desire, but only maternal tenderness. These practices are in accordance
with the cultural model of ideal, virtuous and modest womanhood
(mahinhin) and selfless motherhood (inang martyr), embodied in the
98 Lauser
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Virgin Mary as well as in the noble figures of Filipinas like the ‘‘folklore
character’’ Maria Clara or the ‘‘national mother’’ Corazon Aquino (Sia-
pno, 1995). With this interpretation I do not intend to question the eco-
nomic context and hardships under which migration in general and
marriage migration in particular takes place. On the contrary, I want to
underscore the importance of monetary remittances both for family sub-
sistence (or for future investment) and social mobility. At the same time,
however, I argue for considering non-economic conditions like emo-
tional motivations, cultural values, family obligations and gendered posi-
tions in society. Migration means both that economic motivations are
shaped by family issues and that love for the family is expressed by eco-
nomically supporting the family. Melinda’s motivation to accept mar-
riage migration is without doubt related to her duty as a daughter. As a
good daughter (and sister), she had to support her widowed mother and
her abandoned elder sister and her children. Her investment in the
future of her nephews and nieces is not only seen as a familial obligation
but also as an investment in her own social security. Marriage migration
at least gave her an opportunity to create a new marital subjectivity that
seemed unavailable in her homeland.
As for Melinda’s legal marital status, I should add that by means of
paying bribes, the couple finally received a verification of her ‘‘legal
capacity to marry’’ (Ehefa
¨higkeitszeugnis), which is required for the
German marriage procedure as proof of her ‘‘single’’ status. (Unmar-
ried status is a requirement in order to emigrate to most western coun-
tries as fiance
´es or future wives). Melinda and other (marriage)
migrants suggested without explicating in detail that legal marriage
annulments in the Philippines are hard to get. The manoeuvring
through the complex Philippine legal system is characterised by various
delays and demands for bribes and often ends in failure to obtain a
legal annulment. The legal situation in other places, such as Hong
Kong, is structurally very different because there it is possible to apply
for a legal divorce even without a partner’s consent (Constable, 2003b:
174). Although such a divorce would not be recognised in the Philip-
pines, it would be recognised elsewhere. Thus, labour migration to
Hong Kong might be the first step in looking for opportunities for
divorce and remarriage that are not possible at home. Thus, fake travel
documents, sometimes with a false name and marital status, are not
uncommon. Because bigamy is illegal (and punishable) in the Philip-
pines, this is reason enough to stay abroad and even avoid returning
home for visits (Constable, 2003b).
Philippine women on the move 99
2008 The Author
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These stories challenge the popular myth that most Filipina brides are
poverty-striven or sexy bar girls (of the American based rest-and-recrea-
tion industry or the international tourism industry). I do not deny that
Filipina brides are recruited through the tourism and sex industries, but
this is only one side of the story of marriage migration which has to
include other perspectives too. As Constable (2003b: 177) argues,
such marriages should not be read as simple unidirectional move-
ments from East to West (or South to North), oppressed to liberated,
traditional to modern, or local to global, although some men and
women surely do imagine them in these terms at times.
A more differentiated approach will show that meanings and practices
go beyond such narrow dichotomies.
In my paper I have sought to point out some aspects of gender roles in
the context of global marriage migration. Questioning the wife and
worker dichotomy, I wanted to demonstrate how women travel through
these often assumed public-private, labour-love dichotomies by describ-
ing multiple roles and fluid trajectories (Piper and Roces, 2003a; 2003b;
Constable, 2004b). I do not question the economic commitments associ-
ated with strategies of marriage migration. But by acknowledging non-
economic and ‘‘value-driven’’ motivations, we can open up new ways of
conceptualizing female marriage migration across both the ‘‘public and
private’’ and the ‘‘money and love’’ spheres.
Women’s agency and women’s strategies in the face of shifting
roles in different countries
A single migrant woman’s life story might crisscross all categories of
scholarly migration discourse, including ‘‘labour migration’’, ‘‘marriage
migration’’ and ‘‘family reunification.’’ In the ‘‘ideal’’ case, a Filipina
migrant often begins her migration career as a single woman moving for
work purposes (rural-to-urban) to the transnational public space of an
export-processing factory in the major cities of the Philippines. These
women have not seldom experienced the breakdown of a relationship
(for example as a querida) or stigmatisation as a single mother (McKay,
2003). With the next move she will take up domestic work in the private
100 Lauser
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space of an employer’s home overseas in Asia – in Singapore, Hong
Kong or Taiwan. After that, she will look for a Western husband since
transnational romance is part of Philippine popular culture and a famil-
iar theme for migrant women, even before leaving home (Rafael, 2000;
Constable, 2003a). She may marry a ‘‘Caucasian’’, an American, a Euro-
pean, a German citizen, and relocate again, this time patrilocally to the
husband’s place, where she will work in the private realm as a ‘‘depen-
dent housewife’’ and or in a migrant enclave with co-ethnics. There she
moves through typical care-working roles as geriatric care worker, clea-
ner, service worker and so on. Eventually she herself will sponsor female
family members to join her work team and or marry her husband’s
co-nationals (Lauser, 2004: 141; 2005a; Piper and Roces, 2003b).
Remarkably, my research has revealed an interesting new variation from
the usual stories and studies of marriage migration, possibly challenging
cultural definitions of masculinity. Namely, within the kuha-system of the
sponsoring of relatives and friends, men increasingly follow the paths
blazed by Philippine women often as a form of ‘‘mail-order-bride-
grooms.’’ Relatively well-established, older unmarried or widowed Philip-
pine women in Western countries have emerged as coveted wives for
young Philippine men willing to migrate. These are not fictitious mar-
riages; they are legitimate unions. Such women could be, for example, a
Filipina who migrated as a nurse to the West and who has ensured her
own financial security (and that of her family in the Philippines) at the
expense of founding her own family. She has earned a great deal of
prestige in the context of the Philippines. Using this prestige facilitates
marriage to Filipino men eager to marry an overseas migrant woman
(Lauser, 2004: 129). Considering that older and especially widowed
women are not among the most desired marriage partners locally, a clear
shift that Friedman (1998: 47) has called a ‘‘new geography of identity’’
is revealed when taking the transnational sphere into account. While
cultural and gender specific patterns of behaviour maintain their label
and their outer form, their meaning for the individual actors changes
depending on the specific context and power relationships.
In their life courses, individual women may engage in diverse forms of
domestic, mothering, familial and other care work that are all con-
structed as women’s work. The German labour market (as in other
immigration countries) demands care workers mainly in the (illegal)
domestic and service sector just as the ‘‘marriage market’’ demands loyal
and caring wives who share ‘‘traditional’’ values of home and family
with their (German) husbands. The structural affinity between a paid
domestic worker and an unpaid housewife, both socially defined as
Philippine women on the move 101
2008 The Author
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appropriate women’s positions, can blur the boundaries between these
two different migration patterns. Unpaid household labour (being the
‘‘madam’’ and not the ‘‘maid’’; Lan, 2003), offers a higher moral value
and social recognition. Thus, Filipina migrants may find more nonmate-
rial benefits in a transnational marriage than in waged domestic work.
Because marriage, and the status of a wife – a housewife (maybahay)–
is ‘‘traditionally’’ considered an emotionally and morally highly valued
position in the Philippines, transnational marriage migration may be
interpreted as a current form of an ‘‘old-fashioned’’ tradition – that of
‘‘marrying up’’ (hypergamy).
This kind of ‘‘global hypergamy’’ (Constable, 2004b), however, entails a
number of paradoxes. We need to look precisely how, for whom and in
what sense such marriages represent upward mobility. The fact that
social mobility in a transnational marriage is based on the economic dis-
parities between the countries of the bride and groom and do not always
correspond to the social position or education of the individuals
involved, patterns of marital mobility entail a number of dynamics
between different categories including those of nationality, ethnicity,
gender, geography and class. In Germany, for example, a middle-class
household with only one (male) breadwinner normally cannot afford a
housekeeper whereas in the Philippines, the corresponding situation is
unthinkable without several domestic helpers. Assuming that such mar-
riages are simply upward mobility for the Filipina means overlooking
different kinds of contradictory social and economic patterns between
the origin and destination countries. The position of housewife, for
example, is differently valued in the Philippines and in Germany. In the
Philippines, the housewife is the manager of the family budget, whereas
in Germany, the budget is managed by the (conventionally male) bread-
winner. Hence, women in distinct social positions have available to them
uneven resources for organizing their ‘‘care work’’ and renegotiating
their respective positions.
Women have to ‘‘bargain’’ with the interchange between the monetary
value and the moral and emotional value associated with their multiple
roles (as mothers, caretakers, unpaid housewives, paid domestic workers
and so on). Some marriage migrants seek social mobility for themselves
and their families in the Philippines by becoming unpaid housewives in
transnational marriages. The remittances they send to the Philippines
represent the ‘‘unpaid labour of love’’ (Lan, 2003). Others seek transna-
tional marriages to escape the lower statuses of ‘‘old maid’’ (matandang
dalaga), single mother or aged widow. Abandoned wives and mothers
102 Lauser
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use marriage migration to achieve a respectable status as well as a con-
venient possibility to migrate and acquire a work permit. (Since German
migration policy is fairly restrictive, legal permanent residence and work
permits are linked to marriage and are otherwise hard to get.) ‘‘Selling’’
their care work as both unpaid (house)wife and paid care worker in the
service sector (in Germany) enables them to provide care work to their
family in the Philippines (to their children and the familial caregivers of
their children).
Policy implications
Migrant women leave their families in the Philippines and go abroad
both to work and to escape bad relationships. The idiom of economic
improvement serves as an argument in a situation where the lack of the
possibility of divorce motivates women to go abroad. While Philippine
law prohibits divorce in order to keep families together, it also has the
undesired potential of encouraging women to become a certain type of
mobile transnational subject who may even initiate subsequent migra-
tions of kith and kin.
The importance of the role of states and (im)migration citizenship pol-
icies on women’s choices cannot be underestimated. ‘‘Immigration legis-
lature is not just gendered, it is also based upon certain notions of the
family, especially within the institutional setting of marriage. Marriage
and migration are thus linked to citizenship and to relations of power
created and sustained by the law’’ (Constable, 2003b; Piper and Roces,
2003b: 15). Through marriage to a local citizen – for whichever reason –
migrants become potential long-term settlers and citizens. In the context
of rigid immigration and visa policies, this means at least legal security.
But marriage does not pose an immediate remedy to formal (legal mat-
ters such as residential, political and labour rights) and substantive citi-
zenship rights (covering social aspects such as discrimination). In most
countries, international couples have to be married for a certain number
of years before the foreign spouse gains full residential rights indepen-
dent from the local marriage partner. If the foreign woman seeks
divorce before the end of this period, she risks deportation to her coun-
try of origin. This, however, still leaves the issue of substantive citizen-
ship, and there is evidence for discrimination and stigmatisation of
immigrants in general and Asian women specifically (Mix and Piper,
Philippine women on the move 103
2008 The Author
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The examples I have described point to new possibilities and
‘‘escapes’’ from certain subjectivities (as that of failed relationships),
but at the same time they are not to be romanticised. Rather they
involve new subjectivities, new forms of power and new oppressions.
Narratives – in this case the narratives of migrant women – are not
told in a vacuum. Both what is said, and how it is heard, are highly
political. These narratives can be read as ways of criticising the social
order – as forms of resistance. But how they are heard, depends a
great deal on who is hearing as well as who is making them. As
political rhetoric they may often be ignored, contested, denied or dis-
missed as unrealistic claims upon ‘‘the system.’’ Hopefully, however,
migration studies will continue to listen to their explicit and implicit
political intentions.
1. Kerida or querida is a Spanish word and carries the connotation of ‘‘kept
woman’’ or ‘‘mistress.’’
2. Detailed descriptions and analysis of these – and other stories – have been
presented elsewhere (see Lauser 2004).
3. These are a form of gated communities.
4. It is important to note that arranged marriages are only one end of a con-
tinuum of parental interventions in children’s marriages; at the other end,
there is complete freedom of choice. Additionally, there have always existed
institutionalised means to circumvent parental consent, especially elopement
(Cannell, 1999).
5. For instance, once when she heard him complain that his children by his
legal wife did not respect him enough, she taught her children to look up to
their father and respect him.
6. She characterised her feelings by comparing her emotions with the explosion
of the Philippine volcano Pinatubo.
7. In the literature, the ‘‘care drain’’ is discussed under the aspect of ‘‘care
chain’’, meaning that migrant mothers work in foreign households as paid
caregivers in order to pay the hired caregivers in their own household. In the
Philippine context, however, carework is usually not really ‘‘hired’’ but or-
ganised within extended familial networks and mostly done by kin-caretak-
ers givers. This does not necessarily mean that kin caregivers are cheaper
than waged workers; quite the reverse may be the case. Migrants are obliged
to provide relatives with financial support under the cultural norm of utang
na loob (debts of gratitude) which means an endless process of exchange and
8. Thus the reproductive labour of child raising is often ‘‘outsourced’’ in the
sending countries by female migrants needed in receiving countries to take
on just this task of care work.
104 Lauser
2008 The Author
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9. As a good daughter and sister, she felt obliged to support her old widowed
mother and to invest in the upbringing of her nephews and nieces.
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Le pre
´sent article montre comment la migration transnationale philip-
pine par le mariage est, de fac¸ on complexe et paradoxale, e
`des conside
´rations d’ordre mondial, local et personnel. L’auteur
indique que son argumentation risque de rendre moins nette la division
analytique artificielle qui pre
´vaut toujours entre la migration facilite
par le mariage (les e
´pouses ou futures e
´pouses choisies « par correspon-
dance ») et la migration de main-d’œuvre (principalement des employe
de maison). En mettant en lumie
`re les vies de diffe
´rentes femmes philip-
pines, l’article illustre les intersections et la multiplicite
´de leurs roˆ les
´pouses, de maıˆ tresses, de travailleuses, de me
`res, de filles et de
citoyennes a
´rieur d’un espace migratoire transnational.
L’auteur se dit en outre d’accord avec les spe
´cialistes qui soutiennent
que si les femmes se marient pour pouvoir e
´migrer, elles e
´migrent aussi
dans le but de se marier, car le mariage est conside
´comme un aspect
important de l’e
´panouissement social. A travers une e
´tude rigoureuse de
ces formules nouvelles d’ « e
´vasion nuptiale » a
`re transnational
ou meˆ me mondial, l’auteur analyse les aspirations, les motivations et les
logiques qui entrent en jeu sur cette sce
`ne. Alors que les femmes philip-
pines cherchent des « maris modernes » et des « mariages modernes »
pour e
´chapper aux contraintes locales en la matie
`re, beaucoup
d’hommes occidentaux se tournent vers l’Asie et les Philippines en queˆ te
´pouses « traditionnelles » qu’ils imaginent plus « conservatrices » et
« moins exigeantes ». Les deux groupes de
´couvrent qu’il s’agit d’ide
toutes faites, le plus souvent de
´menties par la re
Les re
´cits dont fait e
´tat l’e
´tude montrent de quelle manie
`re les migrantes
philippines tirent parti de diffe
´rentes situations socio-e
´conomiques et
socioculturelles a
`travers l’espace transnational (allant parfois a
tre des roˆ les traditionnellement de
´volus a
`l’un et l’autre sexes) dans le
but de rene
´gocier ou de revendiquer a
`nouveau une situation matrimo-
niale respectable et de
´e. D’une part, ces femmes sont cate
´es de
multiples manie
`res en tant que femmes et e
´pouses, sur les plans a
`la fois
local, le
´gal, religieux et moral. D’autre part, elles se servent de manie
´ative et active de ces diffe
´rences structurelles et des nouvelles oppor-
´s qui se pre
´sentent dans l’espace transnational pour se rede
Ces re
´cits de vie montrent donc a
`la fois la place qu’occupent les femmes
et l’importance des facteurs structurels.
Philippine women on the move 109
2008 The Author
Journal Compilation 2008 IOM
En este artı
´culo se examina co
´mo la emigracio
´n filipina por matrimonio
transnacional esta
´interrelacionada, de manera compleja y parado
con cuestiones de alcance mundial, local y personal. En e
´l se trata de
despejar la divisio
´n analı
´tica artificial y predominante entre las mujeres
que emigran para contraer matrimonio (mujeres o esposas por correo) y
las que emigran para trabajar (principalmente como empleadas dome
cas). Inspira
´ndose en diferentes historias vividas por mujeres filipinas, en
este artı
´culo se ilustran las intersecciones y multiplicidad de sus fun-
ciones como esposas, amantes, trabajadoras, madres, hijas y ciudadanas
en el contexto migratorio transnacional.
Es ma
´s, en este artı
´culo se corrobora que las mujeres no solamente se
casan para emigrar, sino que adema
´s emigran para casarse, puesto que
consideran que el matrimonio es un importante aspecto en la realizacio
social. Al estudiar minuciosamente estas escapatorias transnacionales, e
incluso matrimonios a escala mundial, se analizan los distintos motivos,
´gica y deseos que entran en juego. Si bien las filipinas suelen buscar
‘‘maridos modernos’’ y ‘‘matrimonios modernos’’ debido a las pocas
posibilidades matrimoniales que tienen a nivel local, muchos hombres
occidentales recurren a Asia y a Filipinas para encontrar esposas ‘‘tradi-
cionales’’ que supuestamente sera
´s ‘‘conservadoras’’ y ‘‘menos exi-
gentes’’. Ambos descubren que los estereotipos de ge
´nero son un ideal y
no una realidad.
Las historias revelan co
´mo las emigrantes filipinas utilizan el contexto
sociocultural y socioecono
´mico a trave
´s del espacio transnacional –y a
veces en contra de la concepcio
´nero local– a fin de renegociar y
reclamar una situacio
´n conyugal respetable y deseada. Por una parte, en
su calidad de mujeres y esposas, esta
´n sujetas a diversas definiciones
locales, jurı
´dicas y de moral religiosa. Por otra parte, utilizan creativa y
activamente las diferencias estructurales y nuevas oportunidades que
brinda el contexto transnacional para redefinirse a sı
´mismas. Por consi-
guiente, estas historias demuestran co
´mo las mujeres se las ingenian para
salir adelante y la importancia que revisten los factores estructurales.
110 Lauser
2008 The Author
Journal Compilation 2008 IOM
... Women reported having sexual intercourse not because they desired it, but rather, to make their husbands happy (Aguiling-Dalisay et al., 1995). Adding to this, by Filipino standards, a good wife is also expected to become a "good Filipino mother" as she bears children -someone who preserves the interests of the husband and who safeguards and manages the household and children orderly (Lauser, 2008;Soriano et al., 2015). It is said that these Filipino women's internalized expectations of a good woman are deeply implanted in the cultural psyche of the people (Peracullo, 2017). ...
... On the other hand, another plausible reason for wanting rough sex is to experience being manhandled to feel more "like women." This reasoning seems to come from the gendered-ideals that men are strong and assertive in sex while women are passive and weak (Englander et al., 2012;Lauser, 2008;Roces, 2009). This suggests that even when women veer away from traditional gender stereotypes, these gender stereotypes and sexual scripts are still deeply embedded into the women's ideals (Cruz, 2021). ...
The Philippines is considered to have one of the highest rates of heterosexual women who have difficulty in experiencing sexual pleasure. However, very few studies have tackled this concern due to the conservative culture of the country. To address this, the present study aimed to build a theory of sexual pleasure for the Filipino women using a constructivist grounded theory approach. The theory is constructed out of two models: the Identity Model of Sexual Pleasure and the Sexual Event Model of Sexual Pleasure. Results of the study can be used to aid in future interventions for sex and relationship therapy in the country.
... For instance, in the case of the Philippines, 90% of Filipinos married to foreigners are women (Lauser, 2006). Women who marry to emigrate, and vice versa, may not only improve the life chances for themselves and their children, but also through remittances for families in the country of origin (Lauser, 2006(Lauser, , 2008. However, this is a simplification, as it risks essentialising female migrants and rendering them unagentic. ...
... There are also social and cultural reasons associated with marriage migration to the Arctic. In particular, Western men are perceived as treating women with greater respect and as equals, compared to men in countries such as Thailand or the Philippines (Flemmen & Lotherington, 2008;Ísfeld, 2019;Lauser, 2008). At the same time, however, Arctic men may prefer marrying a woman, who they perceive to be more traditional compared to the main gender culture (Schmidt, 2011). ...
... For instance, in the case of the Philippines, 90% of Filipinos married to foreigners are women (Lauser, 2006). Women who marry to emigrate, and vice versa, may not only improve the life chances for themselves and their children, but also through remittances for families in the country of origin (Lauser, 2006(Lauser, , 2008. However, this is a simplification, as it risks essentialising female migrants and rendering them unagentic. ...
... There are also social and cultural reasons associated with marriage migration to the Arctic. In particular, Western men are perceived as treating women with greater respect and as equals, compared to men in countries such as Thailand or the Philippines (Flemmen & Lotherington, 2008;Ísfeld, 2019;Lauser, 2008). At the same time, however, Arctic men may prefer marrying a woman, who they perceive to be more traditional compared to the main gender culture (Schmidt, 2011). ...
... Thus, as marriage market theory teaches us, spouses can be seen as finding each other in a market where they search for a good exchange value of resources such as education, age, looks and wealth (Becker 1981). It is thus not surprising that research shows an overlap between labour and marriage migration, as when female labour migrants move to do household work and subsequently marry their employers, or when marriage migrants enter the labour market in the host country, often in reproductive occupations (Lauser 2008;Piper & Lee 2016;Yeoh et al. 2014). Studies of transnational match-making and mail-order brides also show the intertwinement between a variety of motives for marriage and migration, including financial ones (Brettell 2017;Constable 2009;Yamaura 2015). ...
Full-text available
Migration is traditionally categorised into migration for work or family. However, utilising interviews with both immigrant families and publically employed care managers, this study documents the existence of a hybrid type, involving migrant wives who arrive to care for substantially older husbands – an arrangement about which Danish care managers use the term ‘fetched wives’. Register data also document that the relatively infrequent remarriages among older immigrants primarily involve men finding much younger wives abroad. We term some such women ‘migrant carer-wives’. From a marriage market perspective, the demand for such marriages indicates that care needs of the men involved are not presently met. For various reasons, including linguistic and cultural ones, such men cannot or will not rely on either state-sponsored eldercare or aid from adult children. Instead, they (or their children) seek wives abroad. Women who are virtually ‘unmarriable’ locally due to unfortunate circumstances may accept such ‘carer-wife’ marriage proposals. While these marriages may provide such women with a livelihood, they also lead to not only isolated and strenuous lives with many care duties but also a precarious dependency on the adult children of husbands, who do not necessarily regard their fathers’ new wives as kin.
... Denn diese Vereinbarkeitsleistung sollte keineswegs idealisiert werden, sondern ist Ausdruck dessen, wie Akteure mit struktureller Ungleichheit umgehen bzw. wie sie die ›paradoxes of migration‹ versuchen auszubalancieren (Nieswand 2005a, Lauser 2008. ...
... The second category of Asian-European intimate unions is formed between partners with different ethnicities and nationalities. The literature on these marriages flourishes alongside the rich body of studies on "marriage migration"-"migration within or as a result of marriage" (Palriwala and Uberoi, 2008: 23)-notably involving women from Southeast and East Asia, such as Thailand, the Philippines and China (e.g., Lauser, 2008;Suksomboon, 2009;Wang, 2017a). Recently, Europe has become a destination place for LGBTQ migrants from Asian countries, including Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand (Min, 2018;Pijpers and Maas, 2014;Thongkrajai, 2012). ...
Full-text available
The literature on migrations in the Asia-Europe migration corridor focuses on the migration experiences of the Asian adult migrants who moved in Europe, whereas the viewpoints of their family members remain largely understudied. This tendency highlights the need for studies centered on spouses and children. Moreover, scholarly works mostly concentrate on women’s perspectives, overlooking as a result the viewpoints of men and LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or gender non-conforming and other) migrants. Aware of these lacunas, the present special issue underlines the findings from recently conducted empirical studies in different research fields: migration, family, gender, sexuality and socio-legal studies. It has three principal objectives: first, to compare to one another the migration and family experiences of Asian migrants, citizens and non-citizens in the European context; second, to identify intersecting factors shaping the family dynamics and experiences of these migrants and their family members; and third, to pinpoint the manifold stakes of migration, conjugality, parenthood and childhood.
Drawing on 10‐year ethnographic fieldwork in France and China with Northern Chinese migrants in Paris, this paper analyses the imbrication of divorce and migration. Most women had divorced before leaving China, a smaller group divorced after arriving in France, many of them try to remarry abroad, while men respondents were almost all married in China. Relying on an intersectional approach and a transnational perspective, this paper unveils how married or divorcee status have influenced their choices to move or to remain in China, to stay abroad or return. More generally, it examines how the gendered social norms on family, marriage and divorce shape migrants' agency and how it may vary according to social class, gender, age, marital and migration status. The paper questions the transnational power of gender norms and observes how the scripts on family and divorce in China traverse state borders and continue to structure migrants' transnational experiences.
The Asian Migrant’s Body: Emotion, Gender and Sexuality brings together papers that investigate the way Asian migrants experience, think about, perceive and utilize their bodies as part of the journeys they have embarked on. In exploring how bodies are physically and symbolically marked by migration experiences, this edited volume seeks to move beyond the immediate effects of hard labour and (potentially) exploitative or abusive situations. It shows that migrants are not only on the receiving end where it concerns their bodies, nor are their bodies only utilized for their work as migrants: they also seek control over their bodies and to make them part of strategies to express themselves. The collective papers in The Asian Migrant’s Body argue that the body itself is a primary site for understanding how migrants reflect on and experience their migration trajectories.
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This study explores the unique experiences of the emotional processing of the widowhood of individuals of the Chinese seniors, and immigrant background in the United States. By interviewing eight Chinese immigrant widows living in Phoenix, the United States, this study focuses on the comparison of social relations and lifestyles before and after their spousal loss, as well as the unique forces of their Chinese backgrounds and the transnational remarriages in their bereavement process, and then widow status. The narrative accounts of the participants therein illustrate that transnational marriage and blended families generate a series of practical challenges, including unexpected severed friendships and inheritance disputes between stepmother and stepchildren. The consequences are reflected in the increase of self-loathing and low self-esteem, the refusal to remarry, the rising anger at the betrayal of friends, as well as the rapid formation of a high level of independence and self-determination in such circumstances. These findings increase knowledge of widowhood of Chinese women with immigrant background, therein enrich ethno-cultural diversity in the widowhood studies.This study concludes with the implications of providing bilingual legal aid and counseling to Chinese-origin, US-based, and widows.
Congenital heart disease (CHD) is a major global health problem. Until recently, the siblings of this group did not receive much attention. This review, conducted from November 2019 to October 2020, aims to summarize knowledge about psychosocial well-being and quality of life (QoL), associated factors, and interventions for siblings of children with CHD. Systematic searches were conducted in PubMed, PsycINFO, PsycARTICLES, Web of Science via EBSCOhost, and CENTRAL. Twelve articles were included. Results showed that psychosocial well-being was impaired in 14% to 40% of siblings. Negative impact of illness was highest for CHD siblings compared to siblings of children with cancer, cystic fibrosis, or diabetes. QoL was impaired in up to one-third. Siblings of children with CHD and cancer rated their QoL lower than those of siblings of children with cystic fibrosis or type-1 diabetes. Associated factors were sibling age, gender, socioeconomic status, miscarriage, previous sibling death, visibility of illness, and severity of condition. Only one of two interventions focused on siblings of CHD children. Although data are scarce and inhomogeneous, it indicates that siblings of CHD children suffer from lower psychosocial well-being and QoL than siblings of children with other chronic conditions. Interventions to improve their situation should be developed.
Prologue: In Medias Res TRAVELS Traveling Cultures A Ghost among Melanesians Spatial Practices: Fieldwork, Travel, and the Disciplining of Anthropology CONTACTS Four Northwest Coast Museums: Travel Reflections Paradise Museums as Contact Zones Palenque Log FUTURES Year of the Ram: Honolulu, February 2, 1991 Diasporas Immigrant Fort Ross Meditation Notes References Sources Acknowledgments Index
This review examines current anthropological literature concerned with migration and other forms of population movement, and with the movement of information, symbols, capital, and commodities in global and transnational spaces. Special attention is given to the significance of contemporary increases in the volume and velocity of such flows for the dynamics of communities and for the identity of their members. Also examined are innovations in anthropological theory and forms of representation that are responses to such nonlocal contexts and influences.
Opposing the orthodoxies of establishment postcolonialism, Beyond Postcolonial Theory posits acts of resistance and subversion by people of color as central to the unfolding dialogue with Western hegemony. The testimonies and signifying practices of Rigoberta Menchu, C.L.R. James, various "minority" writers in the United States, and intellectuals from Africa, Latin America, and Asia are counterposed against the dogmas of contingency, borderland nomadism, panethnicity, and the ideology of identity politics and transcultural postmodern pastiche. Reappropriating ideas from Gramsci, Bakhtin, Althusser, Freire, and others in the radical democratic tradition, San Juan deploys them to recover the memory of national liberation struggles (Fanon, Cabral, Che Guevara) on the face of the triumphal march of globalized capitalism.
During the summer of 2002, while I was in India working on this chapter, an episode of the U.S. television drama Law and Order: Special Victims Unit was aired on the Asian television network Star TV. The program caught my eye because it was about "mail-order brides" and introduction agencies. The episode encapsulated many of the most common negative stereotypes about so-called mail-order brides and international introduction agencies. Central to the show's story line was Euromatch, an agency that introduced U.S. men to Eastern European women, which turned out to be a front for a prostitution ring, trafficking in women, and immigration fraud. The Eastern European women were depicted as poor and therefore desperate to come to the United States, thus rendering them especially vulnerable to being "imported" by unscrupulous traffickers. The foreign women's character types ran the gamut from helpless innocent victims who had been deceived into marriage by the agency, to sly, devious, and heartless prostitutes who were desperate to emigrate at any cost. The U.S. husbands were portrayed in equally stereotypical terms as socially inept, innocent, and naive dupes, or as violent and deviant wife abusers. The owners of the agency were crooks who profited by selling poor and desperate foreign women, as wives and prostitutes, to provide sexual and domestic services to U.S. men. Such images caught my attention because they stood in sharp contrast to my own impressions of introduction agencies and international correspondence marriages based on several years of ethnographic research among Chinese women, Filipinas, and U.S. men. Copyright