'more Than a Home': Sacred Spaces, Home-Making Strategies and Filipino Migrant Communities in South Korea

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 17:30
Oral Presentation
Bubbles Beverly ASOR, De La Salle University Manila, Philippines
In this paper, I examine migrant home-making as a process of not only forging communities and expressing ethnic identities but also as an (in)visibilizing and (re)politicizing strategy of migrants’ presence in the public sphere of a host society. Based on multisited ethnography of Filipino migrant communities in South Korea, I explore how migrants employ religious resources and Catholic affiliation in carving ethnic identity, new subjectivities and migrant collectivities through various home-making strategies both in the sacred and secular spaces. These home-making strategies have the performative power to challenge spatial and integration regimes through which the Korean state and its apparatuses manage the migrant population in the public sphere. I specifically look at two of the creative strategies of recreating ‘imagined’ Filipino communities and ‘homes’ in South Korea: (1) how Filipino migrant communities observe calendrical religious rituals such as Santacruzan and processions as embodied performance of Filipino identity and collectivity in public spaces; and (2) how Filipino migrants replicate and restage their ‘homeland’ through the most mundane and quotidian activities such as buying and selling Filipino products at Filipino stores and markets, sending remittances and meeting co-ethnics. These home-making strategies operate in two intertwined levels. First, the intramural level occurs between and among co-ethnic Filipinos in the (re)creation of an idealized notion of home through collective memory, nostalgia and continuity of religious and cultural practices and beliefs. Second, the extramural level transpires when home-making is performed for non-Filipino spectators to assert social and cultural identities which Filipino migrants perceive as ‘unique’ from Korean culture. I argue that although migrant home-making are strategies for migrants to ‘survive and thrive’ in the host society, they are also powerful tool to negotiate and resist migrants’ invisibility and marginal positionality.