A seminar with Deirdre McKay: Home against home – unpacking an ethics of home-making in the Filipino diaspora 

HOMInG’s seminar 20_18, next Thursday June 21 at 5pm, will be with Deirdre McKay, a geographer from Keele University. Deirdre has a very rich ethnographic research experience within the Filipino diaspora on a global scale. She has published extensively on migration and transnational relationships, kinship, emotion and remittances, among other topics. The practices and dilemmas of homemaking in a transnational setting will be at the core of her presentation.

All welcome – Dpt. of Sociology, June 21, 5pm


In the Filipino diaspora, migrants are expected to send boxes of used goods – balikbayan boxes – ‘back home’ to the Philippines. This diasporic social norm is a form of long-distance household provisioning. Sending boxes places the needs of migrants’ Philippine homes in competition with their home-making practices in the UK. The contents of these boxes remake Philippine homes as spaces of global care. The boxes have the opposite effect in the UK, however, requiring migrants to neglect their own domestic spaces, their UK futures and UK social networks in order to source gifts.

This paper unpacks the ethical choices behind these boxes and explores the meanings attached to their contents by donors and recipients alike. Setting the demands of one home against the other, balikbayan boxes  express a profound domestic ambivalence. While materialising migrant resistance to ideas of permanent settlement and amplifying practices of sojourning, the boxes simultaneously reassert migrants’ growing distance from quotidian domestic exchanges in their Philippine households. Migrants’ ethical choices are read in to the materiality of their boxes and reveal, over time, where their home truly lies.