Wednesday, November 4, 2015

[Upcoming Seminar] Sunday Catwalks: Aspirations of Migrant Domestic Workers in Hong Kong

Sunday Catwalks: Aspirations of Migrant Domestic Workers in Hong Kong

Speaker: Ju-chen Chen
Time: 1:00 – 2:30 pm, 6 Nov 2015 (Friday)  
Venue: Room 401, Humanities Building, New Asia College, CUHK 


Domestic helpers in Hong Kong are often homogenized, exoticized, and stigmatized as people who live without purpose beyond remitting money home. Ethnographic research shows that, on Sunday's, foreign domestic helpers actively juggle between personal chores, association board meetings, birthday parties, church volunteer works, and beauty pageants. This talk addresses a puzzling phenomenon: the motivations behind active participation in costly and time-consuming beauty pageants and, therefore, being restless on the designated “rest days.” Focusing on beauty pageant participations, this talk argues that similarly baffling individual aspirations – such as college education and working overseas as maid – need to be understood within a much broader context of the Philippine’s class structure and colonial cultural legacy, discourse of modernization and global capitalist institution.

Ju-chen Chen is a lecturer in the Department of Anthropology at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Her research covers migrant workers (mingong) in China and foreign domestic helpers in Hong Kong. She is particularly interested in exploring relationships between the experiences of migration and the realisation of motherhood and womanhood."


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