This project will use the unique case study of the Filipino diaspora over a century to examine the impact of migration on the development and evolution of Filipino identities. The Filipino labour diaspora is the largest in the world with around 8 million, over 10% of the country’s population working in 140 countries. The effect of this migration on the home country is phenomenal as remittances sent by Filipinos abroad in 2005 reached a total of US$ 10 bn, and contributed 10% of the country’s Gross National Product (Mackay 2007). Whilst there is a voluminous literature on the topic the scholarship to date is segregated into two separate fields of Filipino-American studies and contemporary studies on the Philippine migration experience seen through the eyes of a variety of sectors (domestic helpers, seafarers, nurses, construction workers, entertainers, and prostitutes).

This project’s perspective of a century of migration will provide answers to the complex questions of how peripatetic lives have altered Filipino identities. Migration to America (from 1906) by the 1970s produced a new hybrid identity of Filipino-American, born out of the Asian American Movement and the Civil Rights Movement in the US. The second wave of migrations from the 1970s onwards scattered all over the world has resulted in several new identities: the ‘global Filipino’ who has a ‘global consciousness’ and moves as a ‘global citizen’, and a plethora of new identities such as Filipino-American and Filipino-Australian. The time is ripe now to write a history of this diaspora using an analytical framework that explores the impact of this migration on the development of Filipino identities over a century.

The theme of identities will be examined through four articulations: the migrant’s narrative of their own histories, activism on behalf of migrants, dress and consumption practices, and gender.