Promise and unrest: an affective economy of global care work
(Dublin Institute of Technology)
This paper foregrounds the merits of longitudinal audiovisual ethnography as a source of reflexive knowledge and medium of analysis, in depicting the transnational contingencies of long-distance motherhood and the culturally specific, gendered expression of intimacy in the context of a Dublin-based Filipino woman separated from her two young children, labouring to provide food, healthcare and education for an extended family in Babatgnon, Philippines. Drawing on excerpts from my completed ethnographic film 'Promise and Unrest' (2010) conducted over a period of five years - a co-constructed text in which mother and daughter emphatically shape the direction of the film's narrative - this paper will instantiate how material and familial structures, together with emotional dynamics underpin the performance of global care work. It will highlight questions of love labour and the mobilization of female migrant subjecthood as a flexible, mobile, self-aware and future-oriented disposition, active across multiple affective, class, social and cultural domains.