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Gendered Analysis

Sushila Zetlyn

Edited by Anuja Agrawal
Sage Publications, New Delhi Women and Migration in Asia Series, Vol. IV, 2006, pp. 226, Rs. 350.00

VOLUME XXX NUMBER 10 October 2006

Migrant Women and Work includes a collection of papers that were presented at an international conference on Women and Migration in Delhi in 2003. This work challenges the popular misconception that migration is a male activity. This volume adds to a growing body of literature that demonstrates the contribution that a gendered analysis can make to understanding the complex phenomenon of migration and the feminization of labour migration in particular.   The case studies in this volume focus on solo women who migrate for work and challenge the assumption that women migrate as dependents. Some of the case studies argue that migration cannot be understood purely in economic terms. Raguram’s work on Asian women doctors in the UK challenges the gendered assumption that women’s migration can only be understood in terms of economic need or family and kinship identity. Brody describes the influences that determine the ways rural Thai women who migrate to the city to work as cleaners, factory workers and entrepreneurs, define their ambitions and measure their own success. She argues that personal success in their own eyes is bound up with being seen as a responsible adult and migration is regarded as a means to fulfil these responsibilities.   The eight papers in this collection illustrate the variety of experiences and the diverse forces that influence the choices of Asian women, from very different classes and backgrounds, who migrate either within their countries or across national boarders. They include case studies of Keralite nurses in the Gulf, rural Thai women who migrate to Bangkok, Asian doctors in the UK, Bedia women who travel to Mumbai and Filipina women who migrate to various destinations. They reveal some of the complex forces and institutions that influence individuals and shape patterns of migration. A question running through this volume is the extent to which women migrants have agency.   In different ways the authors show how the movements of women in search of work within their own country or abroad are shaped by and shape gender relations and the gendered division of labour in both sending and receiving communities. The ways that migration is viewed and experienced by these women and their families is mediated by gendered expectations of the communities they leave and those they join. Parrenas compares the contrasting ways that Filipino children make sense of and represent the migration of their mothers and fathers. Ogaya finds that Filipina women’...

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