The Labor of Care

Filipina Migrants and Transnational Families in the Digital Age

Together but apart in a globalized world

For generations, migration moved in one direction at a time: migrants to host countries, and money to families left behind. The Labor of Care argues that globalization has changed all that.

Valerie Francisco-Menchavez spent five years alongside a group of working migrant mothers. Drawing on interviews and up-close collaboration with these women, Francisco-Menchavez looks at the sacrifices, emotional and material consequences, and recasting of roles that emerge from family separation. She pays particular attention to how technologies like Facebook, Skype, and recorded video open up transformative ways of bridging distances while still supporting traditional family dynamics. As she shows, migrants also build communities of care in their host countries. These chosen families provide an essential form of mutual support. What emerges is a fascinating portrait of today's transnational family—sundered, yet inexorably linked over the distances by timeless emotions and new forms of intimacy.

"Valerie Francisco-Menchavez's work advances a burgeoning literature on both care work and transnational families in creative and significant ways. This book will make a significant intervention in the literature on transnational domestic workers, their families, and definitions of family."--Eileen Boris, coauthor of Caring for America: Home Health Workers in the Shadow of the Welfare State

"Francisco-Menchavez’s deep research provides readers with a finely textured feel for the complex circuits of care within transnational families. Her work, in close collaboration with a Filipino domestic worker support group, is a major contribution to our understanding of Filipina migrant workers in the U.S., the care communities they create in the diaspora, and the relationships they sustain with the family members they have left behind, but who remain present in their emotional and virtual lives."--Ai-jen Poo, Executive Director, National Domestic Workers Alliance

"Francisco-Menchavez offers a wonderfully nuanced analysis of transnational family formations and strategies for care within the context of globalization. This book is an outstanding example of engaged research; a must-read for those committed to a scholar-activist agenda."--Robyn Rodriguez, author of Migrants for Export: How the Philippines Brokers Labor to the World


Valerie Francisco-Menchavez is an assistant professor of sociology at San Francisco State University.

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