Maid to Order in Hong Kong

Maid to Order in Hong Kong

Stories of Migrant Workers, Second Edition
Nicole Constable

From reviews of the first edition:

"This ethnography is an indisputable contribution to both Asian studies and anthropology and a pioneering work in the field of transnational migration studies. I strongly recommend this lively and readable study of the complex lives of domestic workers in Hong Kong as a textbook for use in a variety of classes."—American Ethnologist

"An ethnography with a twist, in that it portrays the domestic workers in their own terms, speaking for themselves through their experiences and reactions, including the strategies of resistance developed by the workers."—China Journal

"Constable undertakes extensive naturalistic and participant observation. . . . The interviews are lively, presenting an array of experiences."—China Quarterly

"Maid to Order in Hong Kong is a stimulating and compellingly written book."—American Anthropologist

"The combination of analyses of the social structural forms of domination and the individual forms of resistance makes Constable's work insightful and useful."—Signs

Middle-class Chinese women in the global city of Hong Kong have entered the workforce in unprecedented numbers over the past three decades, and the demand for foreign domestic workers has soared. A decade ago some foretold the decline in foreign workers and the influx of mainland workers. But today over 120,000 women from the Philippines, over 90,000 from Indonesia, and thousands more from other parts of South and Southeast Asia serve as maids on two-year contracts in Hong Kong, sending much needed remittances to their families abroad.

Nicole Constable tells their story by updating Maid to Order in Hong Kong with a focus on the major changes that have taken place since Hong Kong's reunification with mainland China in 1997, the Asian financial crisis of the late 1990s, and the outbreak of SARS in 2002-2003. Interweaving her analysis with the women's individual stories, she shows how power is expressed in the day-to-day lives of Filipina domestic workers and more-recent Indonesian arrivals.