“Wait, and While You Wait, Work”: On the Reproduction of Precarious Labor in Liminal Spaces

  • Catherine Bryan


In rural Manitoba, Canada, having been recruited by a small hotel, a group of temporary foreign workers from the Philippines wait. In the Philippines, so too do their non-migrant kin. For both groups, this waiting corresponds to the hoped for completion of the migration project; added to the routine waiting, they manage the physical distance and time differences that separate them. Drawing on multi-sited ethnographic work conducted in Manitoba and the Philippines, this chapter argues that these forms of waiting produce particular forms of value for the hotel. Following the exploitative tendencies of guest worker programs globally and in Canada, but filtered through the unique opportunity for permanent residency offered by the province of Manitoba, the hotel manipulates the timelines to which its workers are subject through a strategic and adaptive use of two immigration programs, each with its own temporal characteristics and time-based objectives: the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program, which offers permanency, and the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, which facilitates the short-term recruitment of temporary migrant labor. Recruiting and retaining workers through these two programs, the hotel capitalizes on their distinct temporal logics, and as such on the manifold waiting of their migrant workers, and the depth of feeling and emotion these logics produce.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Catherine Bryan
    • 1
  1. 1.Social WorkDalhousie UniversityHalifaxCanada

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