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Caring for the 'Holy Land'

Caring for the 'Holy Land': Filipina Domestic Workers in Israel

Claudia Liebelt
Series: EASA Series
Copyright Date: 2011
Edition: NED - New edition, 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 252
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  • Book Info
    Caring for the 'Holy Land'
    Book Description:

    In Israel, as in numerous countries of the global North, Filipina women have been recruited in large numbers for domestic work, typically as live-in caregivers for the elderly. The case of Israel is unique in that the country has a special significance as the 'Holy Land' for the predominantly devout Christian Filipina women and is at the center of an often violent conflict, which affects Filipinos in many ways. In the literature, migrant domestic workers are often described as being subject to racial discrimination, labour exploitation and exclusion from mainstream society. Here, the author provides a more nuanced account and shows how Filipina caregivers in Israel have succeeded in creating their own collective spaces, as well as negotiating rights and belonging. While maintaining transnational ties and engaging in border-crossing journeys, these women seek to fulfill their dreams of a better life. During this process, new socialities and subjectivities emerge that point to a form of global citizenship in the making, consisting of greater social, economic and political rights within a highly gendered and racialized global economy.

    eISBN: 978-0-85745-262-7
    Subjects: Anthropology, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vi-vii)
  4. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. viii-viii)
  5. Maps
    (pp. ix-x)
  6. Preface
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  7. Introduction
    (pp. 1-22)

    The theme of this book is Filipina¹ migrants employed in providing care to the elderly and doing domestic work in Israel. Given the double meaning of ‘care’, these women, predominantly devoted Christians claiming that they love Israel and the Jewish people, are in their own words the ones who really care for the ‘Holy Land’.

    My aim in this book is threefold. First, I investigate ‘care’ ethnographically as, on one hand, a form of affective labour, which includes forms of the commodification of social interactions, and, on the other – and somewhat in opposition to this – as an outcome...

  8. Chapter 1 The Israeli Migration Regime: On Foreign Workers and Migrants
    (pp. 23-44)

    As a nation state where, until recently, more than two-thirds of the population consisted of migrants and the children of migrants, it is hardly surprising that the management and conceptualization of migration flows and citizenship is regarded as being of central significance in academia, as well as by state and non-state actors in Israel.¹ When it comes to Jewish migration, Israel can be described as ade factoimmigration state that actively encourages migration into the country, although terming it ‘return’ rather than immigration. In contrast, non-Jewish migration until recently lacked terminological and legal equivalents and was simply non-existent as...

  9. Chapter 2 Transnational Female Lives
    (pp. 45-78)

    At the core of this book are the subjective life stories, narratives and practices of Filipina migrants in Israel. By describing the life stories of three Filipina migrants at the beginning of this chapter, I intend to set the stage for an introductory overview and comparative analysis of Filipina migrants’ lives in Israel. Most of all, I want to draw attention to the complexities of women’s situations, reasons and experiences throughout the migration process. As Lila Abu-Lughod has pointed out, ‘the effects of extralocal and long-term processes are only manifested locally and specifically, produced in the actions of individuals living...

  10. Chapter 3 Caring for the ‘Holy Land’
    (pp. 79-104)

    As is the case in numerous countries, Filipina migrants in Israel are employed predominantly in domestic work, according to the contemporary Israeli migration regime as actively recruited live-in carers. As such, most Filipinos live in the private homes of their employers and are supposed to be available for work six days a week, twenty-four hours a day. The complex work realities faced by Filipinos in Israel are therefore crucial for an understanding of their everyday lives in Israel.

    For Momsen, a domestic worker is ‘an individual worker undertaking a range of reproductive tasks for a private household’ (1999: 14, n....

  11. Chapter 4 On Weekends, Together: The Making and Unmaking of a Filipino Community
    (pp. 105-128)

    InMaid to Order in Hong Kong(1997: 11), Constable reviews the sociological and anthropological literature on migrant domestic labour, and comes to the conclusion that most studies emphasize the oppression and passivity of domestic workers. This naturally has a lot to do with the structuring of domestic work itself: the apparent containment of domestic workers in private homes, its public invisibility and the status of migrant workers as – often illegalized – foreigners who are at least initially ignorant of their destination country’s labour laws, legal processes and institutions for political action or public outreach; all of these factors...

  12. Chapter 5 Feeling Manila, Living in Hiding and Appropriating the Black Part of the ‘White City’: Filipinos in Tel Aviv
    (pp. 129-158)

    Written by Andrea, a former radio operator in her Philippine hometown and since 2003 a live-in carer in Tel Aviv, ‘A Week of Patience’ informs us that hanging out in thetakanaon Saturday nights is part of the standard weekly routine for Filipinas in Israel. HaTakana, ‘the station’ – the short and Tagalogized version ofha takhana ha merkazit ha khadasha shel Tel Aviv(Hebrew, ‘Tel Aviv New Central Bus Station’, CBS) – has become one of those Hebrew words that Filipinos in Israel have integrated into their vocabulary. When large numbers of Filipino domestic workers stream into the...

  13. Chapter 6 Global Dreaming
    (pp. 159-186)

    InModernity at Large, Appadurai (1996) argues for a new age of global imaginations, dominated by the transnationally structured flows of mass media and mass migration. These imaginations often relate to a modernity which in many postcolonial societies lies elsewhere (1996: 9). As an example, Appadurai chooses the Philippines, a nation of ‘make-believe Americans’ (ibid.: 30), whose ‘mimicry’ of American pop music and ideals of beauty apparently gives proof of postcolonial dominance. Appadurai’s description corresponds with many interpretations of Filipino culture.¹ Throughout numerous ethnographies, the Philippines appear as either completely Americanized, apparently lacking a culture of their own, or as...

  14. Conclusion
    (pp. 187-192)

    Many of the Filipina women interviewed for this book were engaged in global journeys towards more encompassing incorporation, rights and citizenship. If not to find the famous ‘pot of gold at the end of the rainbow’, Filipina women leave their homes in search of a better life, social and economic security, political participation, and the fulfilment of dreams. As female ‘working class cosmopolitans’ (Werbner 1999), they embody subjectivities beyond the (theoretical) divide between parochial migrants and bourgeois cosmopolitans that has dominated much of the relevant literature thus far (Braziel and Mannur 2003: 16f.; Hannerz 1996; cf. Clifford 1997).

    From at...

  15. Glossary
    (pp. 193-194)
  16. Bibliography
    (pp. 195-208)
  17. Index
    (pp. 209-214)