Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Kultur-, Sozial- und Bildungswissenschaftliche Fakultät - Institut für Asien- und Afrikawissenschaften

02 July: Long-Distance Care: Filipino Migrants’ Engagement in Development Projects at Home

Lecture by Dr. Helena Patzer (Czech Academy of Sciences / University of Warsaw)
  • Wann 02.07.2018 von 18:00 bis 20:00
  • Wo Room 117, Invalidenstrasse 118
  • iCal


Filipino migration to the United States has for a long time been a favorite topic of research. However, migrant professionals have been largely left out of the picture. This lecture will present an ethnography of the Filipino community in the Greater Boston Area and the ways they engage with the home country. The focus will be Gawad Kalinga (GK), a non-governmental development organization, which attracts many Filipino-Americans. Involvement with GK is seen as the epitome of being a good migrant, but it usually comes only after the needs of the family back home are settled.

These two streams of transnational care are shaped by the changing position of the migrant in the sending country, and the process of reaching a higher social position abroad. While family connections are an indispensable part of the experience of migration in the beginning of a migrant’s journey as an overseas Filipino worker (OFW), becoming a long-term migrant, a balikbayan, activates the second type of transnational connections. Through these engagements, the balikbayans expand their family care to the community and the nation. The lecture will compare the rhetoric and practices of care present in GK with that of long-distance care for families in order to analyze these two fields of migrant activity.

What will also be discussed is that by becoming benefactors, the balikbayans may, often unwillingly, create patron-client relations with the beneficiaries of their support, and so perpetuate old patterns instead of bringing in the change they dream of.


About the speaker:
Dr Helena Patzer is a post-doctoral researcher at the Institute of Ethnology, Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague, and a lecturer at the Department of Anthropology, University of Warsaw. Her PhD was a study of Filipino middle-class professionals in the US and their involvement in development projects at home (Long-distance Care. The Practice of Sustaining Transnational Ties by Filipino Immigrants in Boston). She was awarded a Kosciuszko Foundation scholarship at Harvard University, and later an Erasmus Mundus Post-doctoral Fellowship at Ateneo de Manila University. Her research interests include transnational migration, long-distance care, the critical anthropology of development, and urban studies. She is the author of three edited volumes, among them Pretextual Ethnographies. Challenging the Phenomenological Level of Anthropological Knowledge-Making, forthcoming with Sean Kingston Publishing. She also directed “Money Tree”, an ethnographic film based on her research on Filipino migrant families using ICTs.