The “Right to the City” in the Landscapes of Servitude and Migration, from the Philippines to the Arabian Gulf, and Back
This chapter examines the relationship between migration and urbanization by exploring how female domestic workers (called Household Service Workers or HSWs), hailing from the Philippines, use and influence urban space in both their host country, the Arabian Gulf, and their home country, the Philippines. Since many HSWs work as nannies and are tied to exit visas, they are seen as employees of servitude and are kept separate from local citizens through social, spatial, and infrastructural segregations. Due to their precarious employment, HSWs are always second-class non-citizens with limited human, social, and spatial rights. The latter right, that of spatial access, or “right to the city,” is at the core of this chapter. By systemically examining the process of pre-migration training, the migrant’s limited mobility in the host country, and the impact of migration in the home country, this chapter focuses on the role of gender, identity, and citizenship on spatial mobility, migration, and urbanization in both the Gulf and the Philippines.
The research here would not have been possible without the support of the Penny White Fund at the Graduate School of Design, the NCR Fund at the Asia Center, and the Philippines Fund at the Asia Center, Harvard University. Special thanks to Sonja Dümpelmann, Gareth Doherty, Pierre Bélanger, Edward Eigen, and Neil Brenner for their support and to Cathy Coote.
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