This article examines how labor migration is facilitated and shaped within the neoliberal economy system, focusing on the case of Filipino migration to Israel. For Filipino women who seek to find economic opportunities abroad but lack skills, Israel has emerged as one of the most popular destinations since the mid-1990s, since it is a destination in which they are allowed to work as paid caregivers. In Israel, the caregiver sector occupies the greatest part of the overseas labor market, while providing local senior citizens with live-in caregivers at a cheap cost. In investigating the migration flow of Filipino caregivers to Israel, I draw a special attention to the informal operations of intermediary networks and their roles in initiating and sustaining Filipino migrant flow to Israel. In this article, the intermediary networks involve all those who engage in the migration process such as agents/sub-agents, family, friends, and the friends of their friends. In the context of Israel, where a relatively higher wage is assured for foreign caregivers yet where entry conditions require an exorbitant placement fee, the migration is operated through the complementary roles of a wide range of formal and informal intermediaries. Significantly, such privatization of overseas labor recruitment, characterized by a binding system and an overseas recruitment scheme, contributes to producing power to private agencies, enabling them to impose excessive placement fees on the migrants and control the employment. It is within this context that Filipino women are channeled into the Israel labor market, shaping the current migration flow.
This article explores whether the concept of a global care chain is useful in understanding the migration of careworkers internationally. It examines how an affective approach to understanding migration could supplement the care chain analysis by accounting for the overlapping, shifting, contingent and non-linear networks of emotion that arise during migrations. Analyzing carework through the lens of an “affective economy” is more revealing of the multiple experiences of Filipino gay and transgender caregivers in Tel Aviv and New York, Peruvian careworkers in Spain and Polish careworkers in Germany, as but three brief, illustrative examples. First I will discuss what the care chain approach can illuminate about the multiple and varied stories of migrant careworkers and how it may also essentialize or oversimplify their experiences. I will then suggest that the model naturalizes the caring, biological mother and reinforces geographical and ideological binaries such as North/South, winner/loser and domination/dependency. Finally, I will discuss how the care chain model presents a linear conception of time and space, obscuring the overlapping and multi-directional routes of migration that careworkers travel. Ultimately I will argue that an affective approach creates the theoretical language that can help build what Chela Sandoval calls a coalitional consciousness.
This article investigates the sensual participation of Filipina care workers in Israel, more specifically in the urban space of Tel Aviv. By creating a rich communal life, by parading icons of the Virgin Mary through the streets, and by crafting Origami paper swans that have conquered urban spaces in all sizes, shapes and colours, migrants have fashioned modes of aesthetic and sensual belonging in the city. Their popular aesthetics, I argue, is intricately linked to the ironic Americanisation of a post-colonial nation, as well as the gendered niche of care, which Filipinos in the global economy have come to occupy. Drawing on the concept of ‘aesthetic formation’, this article foregrounds the performative aspects and centrality of objects, appearances and the senses in migrants’ making of community. Filipinos’ aesthetic formations in diaspora speak of collective struggles as well as of the emergence of new subjectivities beyond ethnic or cultural identities.