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(De)Constructing Docility at the Destinations

  • Bina FernandezEmail author
Chapter
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Part of the Mobility & Politics book series (MPP)

Abstract

This chapter examines the agency of Ethiopian migrant women within the context of their employment. I begin by describing the institution of the kafala in the Middle East, the system of migrant-sponsorship designed to manage a large population of migrant workers in these countries by binding migrants’ residency rights to employment. I go on to situate Ethiopian women within the racialised hierarchy of migrant workers that prevails in these countries and to discuss the historical context for their position. At the core of the chapter is the analysis of women’s responses to their working conditions in three types of situations: as domestic workers who ‘live in’ with their employers, as women who ‘run away’ from employers and become irregular, and as ‘freelancers.’ I explore the difficulties these women endure due to constraints on their labour, freedom of movement, free time, and access to personal documents. I show how women exercise agency in these situations despite these constraints, through overt conflict, subversive tactics and other ‘weapons of the weak,’ agentic silence, or by pursuing the ‘exit options’ of leaving the country or running away to become ‘freelancers’ or irregular migrants.

Keywords

Ethiopian migrant Migrant domestic workers Working conditions Run-away migrant Freelancer Middle East Lebanon Kafala Migrant agency 

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of MelbourneParkvilleAustralia

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