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The Global and the IntimateFeminism in Our Time$
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Victoria Rosner and Geraldine Pratt

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780231154499

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231154499.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM COLUMBIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.columbia.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Minnesota Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CUPSO for personal use.date: 03 July 2022

“Like a Family, But Not Quite”

“Like a Family, But Not Quite”

Emotional Labor and Cinematic Politics of Intimacy

(p.211) 10 “Like a Family, But Not Quite”
The Global and the Intimate

Tsung-yi Michelle Huang

Chi-she Li

Columbia University Press

This chapter explores the production and possibilities of intimacy in the context of global labor migration. More specifically, it looks at tensions between a congenial affirmation of migrant workers and the constrictive governance of migrant labor for the state's regulatory purposes by analyzing three films representative of recent filmic representations about how foreign laborers are treated in Taiwan: Hospital 8 East Wing (2006), Nyonya's Taste of Life (2007), and We Don't Have a Future Together (2003). The chapter considers the complex forms of borders mediated and disseminated in cinematic constructions and the paradox of being like a family, but not quite. It looks at the just-like-family rhetoric that is predicated on the concealed lack of reciprocity between employer and domestic laborer, along with the assumption that filial relations are one-sided and unreciprocated. The chapter introduces an analytical term, the instrumentalization of life, to delineate the uncertain oscillation between the compassionate treatment of migrant laborers and the non-negotiated demand of their emotional labor.

Keywords:   intimacy, labor migration, migrant workers, migrant labor, cinema, Taiwan, borders, family, instrumentalization of life, emotional labor

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