Jolin Joseph

Jolin Joseph

PhD Candidate, Gender, Feminist & Women's Studies

Vanier Scholar

My Research

The migration of domestic workers has become big business, involving millions of women, billions of dollars, and a multiplicity of agencies and intermediaries. Although an increasingly important avenue towards employment for women, state policy, (im)migration regulations, and media discourses combine to situate migrant domestic workers in a gendered and racially segregated labour market. My doctoral research will render visible this undocumented, precarious and invisible form of waged work and the implications of current policies related to mobility and labour that do not adequately take gender into account. Employing an integrative, feminist approach that takes individual experience as the site for an investigation of social organizations and relations of power, allows me to unpack the complex ways that discourse and policy co-construct women workers’ situated circumstances. Through interviews with migrant domestic workers, institutional actors and analysis of policy texts, I examine the gendered contours of human mobility with particular attention to Indian migrant labour in Saudi Arabia. India–Saudi Arabia ranks among the top migration corridors in the world, however, there is a considerable lack of gender-disaggregated data and academic research that spotlight this important and growing segment of the population. This study is poised to make a theoretical and empirical contribution by bringing into focus the social and institutional conditioning of migrant domestic labour in the region and beyond.

The situation of migrant domestic workers is a particularly compelling illustration of the need for transnational governance in an era of globalization. My research aims to fill knowledge gaps regarding domestic work in Saudi Arabia, and provide the information necessary for stakeholders to develop interventions that promote and protect of migrant rights and mobility. I anticipate that this study will contribute to critical understandings of migrant lives and institutional processes as embodied and embedded in global-local settings. As a Vanier scholar, I strive to conduct research that expands and challenges the parameters of transnational migration and amplifies its transformational potential.