The Entanglements of Neoliberal Temporalities and Class Politics in Philippine Migration to Canada

  • Pauline Gardiner Barber


As Marx proposed, capitalism has long relied on the exploitation of mobile surplus populations. Working from an historical political economy perspective, this chapter examines the temporalities associated with labor migration and class politics in the case of Philippine migration to Canada. Ethnographic research in Canada and the Philippines, known for global labor export and now Canada’s top source country, juxtaposes the transnational entanglements of neoliberalism as each country enacts policies to facilitate employers’ timely access to deskilled workers. The chapter analyzes the unfolding of policies to consider the class implications for workers in both countries. Several threads of neoliberalism’s contrasting temporalities shape the chapter’s argument relating on the one hand to the immediacy implied in Canada’s ‘just-in-time’ immigration system versus Filipinos’ protracted waiting in ‘migration time’, and on the other hand to how neoliberal fixation on the present circumscribes the political agency of migrant Filipinos and working class Canadians. Instead of resolving class disparities—the ideological promise of neoliberalism—migration exacerbates class polarities in both countries. To highlight the political connotations of migration and labor export, the chapter also contrasts the layers of meanings associated with EDSA, a major site of revolutionary action. It is proximate to this very same site that Filipinos migrating abroad must present themselves to the Philippines Overseas Employment Agency in order to obtain official exit visas prior to departing from the country. Here also is located one of the ethnographic venues where one particular group of migrants, discussed in the chapter, assembles to receive additional optional training while waiting for deployment to work in Québec, Canada. These migrants-in-waiting embody just-in-time migration.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pauline Gardiner Barber
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Sociology and Social AnthropologyDalhousie UniversityHalifaxCanada

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