*Note: this article is part of series of interviews with authors and editors at the MIR Journal, IRSAM’s academic journal.
MIR: Tell us a bit about yourself
AR: My name is Alec and I am a third-year Sociology and History student. I moved to Montreal a few years ago from the Philippines, where I was born and raised. At McGill, I’m a Senior Editor at the McGill International Review Online and the President of the McGill University Filipino Asians Student Association.
MIR: What does your paper discuss?
AR: My paper covers the international division of reproductive labour that constitutes the current state of care work. In recent decades, care work has entered the global marketplace and it has fallen on the backs of migrant women from the Global South. As a case study, I looked at the history of law and public opinion in Canada to display how the changing rights and privileges afforded to care workers reflect racialized and gendered discourses. As you’ll see in my paper, I argue that the state institutionalizes and reproduces prejudice to marginalize and maintain the subservience of this group of migrants.
MIR: What drew you to this topic?
AR: The study of care work has always been a topic that’s close to my heart. When I connected with the Filipino community in Montreal, I noticed that a large number of immigrants of Filipino descent or origin primarily work in the care sector. Hearing their stories on the struggles they face on a day-to-day basis tore my heart out. It’s absurd how so many people in a country like Canada are subjected to criminally long work hours, unreasonable family separation, and physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. It’s even more absurd to me that it’s not a mainstream issue that we’ve truly worked to address.
MIR: How does this paper contribute to the scholarly conversation on international relations?
AR: Honestly, I don’t know if it really does. I’ve written a lot of papers on the international care work regime during my time at McGill, and the one thing I’ve taken away from it is that there is so much research to be done on the intersections of immigration policy, the labour market, and social stratification. The study of care work is well documented in the fields of feminist legal theory and feminist economics, and in recent years there seems to be an increasing amount of literature that makes considerations based on other axes of inequality, such as class, nationality and ethno-racial background. I would say that my paper barely scratches the surface. At the very least, I hope it could serve as a starting off point for people to re-conceptualize how they understand the care sector.
MIR: What was the most interesting or shocking thing you learned while researching?
AR: I think what shocked me the most was how invisible this problem is to most people. In first year, whenever I told someone I’m from the Philippines I was consistently greeted with “Oh, my nanny/maid/caregiver is Filipina!” A lot of people have experience with or know someone who pays for care work in one form or another. As populations age in more developed economies, this trend is only going to increase. Despite that, I don’t think we treat the people who care for children and the elderly with enough respect. Not enough people recognize this as a problem.
MIR: Has the editing process had any effect on how you will go about writing in the future? How so?
AR: It’s always useful to learn how other people go about writing/editing a paper. Editors and writers are on the same team in that they’re all invested in making sure the point comes across. Every time I edit someone’s work or have someone look over mine, I get better at conveying what I’m trying to say (or at least I think so!).
MIR: Any advice to aspiring writers?
AR: Everybody has a unique point of view that they should share, but I think (based on my limited experience) if you want to be a writer you’re going to need to find a reason to be passionate about writing. Call it cliché but I think if you’re passionate about something and you’re given the right opportunities, then you’d make the time to improve your skills and find motivation when you’re running out of steam.
Edited by Cassie Moschella