Born Out of Place: Migrant Mothers and the Politics of International Labor

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Monday, March 2nd, 2015

Monday, March 2, 20154:00PM - 6:00PM208N, North House, Munk School of Global Affairs
1 Devonshire Place
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Reimagining the Asia Pacific Speaker Series


This talk introduces Born Out of Place: Migrant Mothers and the Politics of International Labor (University of California Press and Hong Kong University Press). The book, based on over fifteen months of ethnographic research among Filipino and Indonesian migrant workers who become pregnant while working in Hong Kong, makes three main arguments: (1) that temporary workers must be considered people, not just workers; (2) that policies often create the situations they aim to avoid; and (3) that the stigma of single motherhood often causes migrant mothers to re-enter what is called the “migratory cycle of atonement.” Professor Constable will also discuss the current socio-political climate of Hong Kong today, in relation to the book’s recent reception, including attitudes towards outsiders, economic and class anxieties, and relations with mainland China. Questions will also be raised about the role of “public anthropology” and how this book relates to migratory contexts beyond Hong Kong.

Nicole Constable is Director of the Asian Studies Center in the University Center for International Studies, and professor of anthropology in the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh. She is author or editor of seven books, including: Christian Souls and Chinese Spirits: A Hakka Community in Hong Kong; Maid to Order in Hong Kong: Stories of Migrant Workers; and Romance on a Global Stage: Pen Pals, Virtual Ethnography, and “Mail-Order’ Marriages.


Rachel Ostep


Nicole Constable
Director, University Center for International Studies; Professor, Department of Anthropology, Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, University of Pittsburgh

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