Ritual Passage and the Reconstruction of Selfhood in International Labour Migration

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This paper reasserts the place of human agency amid the structural forces that seem to overdetermine international labour migration. To explore the meanings attached by migrants to overseas employment, the paper casts the worker’s experience as a type of ritual, a secular pilgrimage knowingly embarked upon by the individual in close dialectical relationship with the social world. Various stages of double liminality are endured by the migrant worker through the balm of commodities and the consumption of modernity, with the journey of achievement eventuating in a new sense of self. Empirical materials are drawn primarily from studies of Filipina and Filipino workers.