At Home but Not at Home

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At home but not at home
Nicole Constable

The main aim of the article is showing that in case of migrants (specifically Filipinas in Honk Kong) the concept of home is not as simple and unambiguous as it may seem. Constable presents different conceptualizations of the notions “space”, “place” and “home”. He follows the conception of Ackbar Abbas, who writes, "We think of a place in terms of definable physical characteristics and situatedness, at most as a symbolic structure. A space by contrast is a changing field of tensions and contradictions, where the physical is imbricated and competes with social, political and cultural dimensions" (206). Following Salman Rushdie, the author says that, “it is useful to conceive of "home" as involving some degree of both location (at least an imaginary one) and relations-thus constituting a social and physical "space" as opposed to simply a "place"” (206). These definitions lead to the question of how physical and social conceptions of home are "related and imbricated" in particular cases-and how these are altered by processes of separation, dislocation, and migration. (207) “Workers may sometimes feel more at home in Hong Kong even while they continue to imagine the Philippines-in particular ways-as home” (208). Or reversely “…home is tied to ideas of family back in the Philippines, even as that family is reconfigured by their own absence and their remittances”( 209). In this case home for domestic workers is no longer congruent with the household in which they reside. The main part of the article focuses on concrete examples of women Filipino migrants in Honk Kong and their experiences. Acosta, Molly, Fely, Virginia, and Elsa all have remained in Hong Kong longer than they originally intended. They explained their continued returns in different terms. Constable argues that “even though most women stress their economic motivation for working in Hong Kong, that is but one of many complex reasons why they come, why they...
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