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‘You are supposed to treat them like your mum and dad’: narratives about transnational family lives by middle-class Filipino children

Release date: 2017-01

The Philippines is a labour exporting country since the 1970s. Due to the contract labour systems in destinations such as the Middle East or East Asia, migrants are usually not able to bring their family members. This development led to the rise of transnational families – families who maintain social relationships and economic ties across the borders of nation-states. The majority of the studies on transnational families focus on migrant mothers and transnational motherhood; my paper will prioritise the perspective of the children left-behind in the Philippines. For this purpose, two qualitative interviews with daughters of migrants were selected and analysed using the integrative hermeneutic approach. Even though related studies suggest that children have more difficulties to cope with the migration of mothers, my analysis shows the resentments children might have with their father’s migration and the migration of both parents. Moreover, studies have not yet tackled the issue of what comes after the return of the parents; this article elucidates the idealisation of return. The narratives are contextualised in relation to family, gender ideologies and aspects of class in the Philippines.

In Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 43 (6), 902-918.