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Open Webinar: Labor of the Imagination: Return Migration and the Transformation of Metro Manila


Date: Monday 7 March 2022

Time: 15.00 – 16.30

Location: Zoom

Eric Pido, San Francisco State University.

Until the mid-2000s, Filipino tourists and retirees constituted less than ten percent of visitors to the Philippines. Recently, however, the number of balikbayans or Filipino returnees, traveling back to their homeland has dramatically increased. Executives in the Philippine tourism and retirement industries, encouraged by these waves of returning Filipinos, partnered with multinational property development firms to create programs seeking to intensify the circulation of return migration and channeled enormous financial investments into the luxury property market. These investments, hedged on previous decades of remittances sent by Filipinos living abroad, importantly capitalized on the cultural obligation, held by Filipinos, to take on the responsibility to ensure the welfare of the family members that they had left in the Philippines and the immense desire that overseas Filipinos possess to eventually return to their homeland. This presentation demonstrates the importance of reconceptualizing the experience of migration as multidirectional and multilayered by focusing on the material effects created by the imagination. Contrary to views of migration that often focus solely on the departure and settlement of migrants and immigrants, the dramatic urban transformation produced by the aspirations of balikbayans visiting and returning to their homelands decades after leaving the Philippines helps us to reconceptualize analytical categories of distinguishing home from destination, tourists from locals, and migrants from those who remain, during this period of intense globalization and magnified capitalist investment.

Eric J. Pido, associate professor in Asian American studies at San Francisco State University. He graduated from the University of California at Berkeley with a Ph.D. in Ethnic Studies and was a fellow at the Center for Research on Social Change where he conducted research on the effect of the 2007 real estate crisis on Filipino families in California. His research culminated into the recently published Migrant Returns: Manila, Development, and Transnational Connectivity (N.C.: Duke University Press, 2017) as well as several articles in the journals Verge: Studies in Global Asia, Journal of Asian American Studies, and Ethnic and Racial Studies. Previously, Dr. Pido worked as a case worker in Los Angeles and Seattle, working specifically with refugee and immigrant communities before completing his M.S.W. at the University of Washington at Seattle.

Zoom link:

The seminar is co- arranged with CEIFO, Stockholm University.