Harney Lecture Series

Care Activism: Migrant Domestic Workers, Movement-Building and Communities of Care

September 20, 2023 | 4:00PM - 6:00PM
Harney Program

This event is over

This event took place in-person in Seminar Room 108N, North House, Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy, 1 Devonshire Place, Toronto, ON.
Care Activism: Migrant Domestic Workers, Movement-Building and Communities of Care (University of Illinois Press 2023) argues that migrant domestic workers’ social movements emerge and persist out of migrant domestic workers’ belief in the need to place at the very centre migrant domestic workers’ interests. Through ethnographic research with migrant domestic worker advocacy organizations across Canada and in Singapore, Hong Kong, the Philippines and in transnational fora such as the ILO, this book shows the multiple ways that migrant domestic workers ‘care’ for each other in ways that sending and receiving states, and even other advocacy organizations cannot or will not. Specifically, through the framework of  care activism, we see how migrant domestic workers create communities of care that can help them survive and even thrive despite arduous working and living conditions, prolonged family separation, and tensions during family reunification processes.  Through care activism, we witness how domestic workers do not only seek material improvements in their lives and policy change, but also put forward future-oriented visions of what migrant justice and gender justice could look like.
Speaker biographies:
Ethel Tungohan is a Canada Research Chair in Canadian Migration Policies, Impacts and Activism and an Associate Professor of Politics at York University. Her book, Care Activism: Migrant Domestic Workers, Communities of Care, and Movement-Building,  won the National Women’s Studies Association First Book Prize and was featured in Ms. Magazine’s August ‘must-reads’ list of books by Indigenous, Black, and Racialized scholars. Her work looks at migrant activism, immigration, labour and social policy, and immigration history. She frequently uses socially-engaged research methods in her work.
Kad Mariano is a PhD student in the Department of Politics at York University. His Master's thesis investigates how public representations of Indigeneity in Nathan Phillips Square culturalize Canada's settler-colonial past and reframe Indigenous struggles through multiculturalism. His doctoral research proposes looking at the politics of recognition/reconciliation through the transnational lives of migrants.
Martha Balaguera is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Toronto Mississauga. Her scholarship focuses on Latin American collective political struggles in violent contexts and transnational feminisms. Her first book project (in progress) theorizes the frontier regime that spans Central America, Mexico and the United States, and the activist practices of an immigrant justice movement field bringing together undocumented migrants, asylum seekers, and activist allies across borders.
Megan Gaucher is an Associate Professor of critical migration law and politics in the Department of Law and Legal Studies at Carleton University. Her interdisciplinary research focuses on the state's operationalization of heteropatriarchal, racialized, settler-colonial narratives of family to police migrants and reinforce Canada’s physical and ideological borders; and the ways in which citizens, partial citizens, and non-citizens negotiate these parameters. She is the author of A Family Matter: Citizenship, Conjugal Relationships, and Canadian Immigration Policy (UBC Press), and her work has been published in the Canadian Journal of Political Science, International Journal of Canadian Studies, and Canadian Ethnic Studies, among others. Her current projects include an examination of narratives of care used to evaluate family reunification appeals made by migrant workers, and an investigation into the politicization and subsequent legislative treatment of maternity tourism.
Cynthia Mariano was a live-in caregiver under the Live-in Caregiver Program from 2003 to 2006. During that time, she was engaged in care activism by sharing her experience and knowledge of Canadian immigration policy to help her fellow migrant care workers. She is currently a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant for more than ten years and has taught Immigration Law at Anderson College and Herzing College for four years.
This event is sponsored by the R. F. Harney Program in Ethnic, Immigration and Pluralism Studies, Munk School.
Harney Program
Event contact:
Mustafa Aryan mustafa.aryan@utoronto.ca


headshot of Ethel tungohan
Ethel Tungohan

Canada Research Chair in Canadian Migration Policies, Impacts and Activism; Associate Professor, Department of Politics, York University

Kad Mariano

PhD candidate, Department of Politics, York University

Martha Balaguera

Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Toronto Mississauga

Megan Gaucher

Associate Professor, Department of Law and Legal Studies, Carleton University

Cynthia Mariano

Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant, College Instructor and Former Live-in Caregiver