Heba Abdella


This thesis takes an in-depth look into the racialization and gendering of the job of migrant domestic labor. It explores the migrant domestic women and the organizations that represent their movement to obtain equal civil and labor rights. The thesis argues that domestic labor is a gendered occupation and is used as a tool to create and maintain hierarchies of social class, based on gender and race. The thesis investigates the cases and examples of migrant domestic labor in the United States to explore the social dynamics that take place within the new environment as well as the evolution that takes place in terms of identity as they live and work in the US as migrant domestic workers. The thesis presents evidence of a systematic racializa-tion and gendering of transnational domestic labor market and argues that it is state-sponsored and sanctioned/legitimized by international human and labor rights and immigration regulations; as well as supported/sustained by societies’ gender norms and boundaries. This thesis presents the case that this is not merely a consequence of social norms, laxity in legislation and economic opportunities, but rather en-forcement of systematic national policies addressing this field on the social, economic and nationalistic levels. This systematic effort is legitimatized by the half-hearted efforts of international non-governmental organizations as well as national and international immigration and labor policies. The thesis will look at these contriving efforts of national rhetoric, international policies and social regulations and norms to reveal the existing patterns and struc-tures that keep this gendered and racialized role intact. This thesis explores the issues that migrant domestic workers con-front and how these translate to their civil and labor rights, and their identity with their origin nation and the US. The thesis investigates this subject through the case of migrant domestic laborer and their representative orga-nizations operating in New York City, USA. The research focuses on women from the Caribbean region, Philippines, and Nepali-speaking women working with organizations that aim to eliminate civil and labor inequalities in the US.


Cynthia Nelson Institute for Gender and Women's Studies

Degree Name

MA in Gender & Women's Studies

Graduation Date


Submission Date

May 2015

First Advisor

Rieker, Martina

Committee Member 1

Rieker, Martina

Committee Member 2

Sabea, Hanan


134 p.

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Library of Congress Subject Heading 1

Migrant labor -- United States -- Social conditions.

Library of Congress Subject Heading 2

Women migrant labor -- United States -- Social conditions.


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