The Pliant Indigenous Body: Igorot Domestic Migrant Activism in Social Media

Jose Kervin Cesar B. CALABIAS*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Working paperWorking paper series


This paper is a partial examination of Igorot domestic workers, Indigenous peoples from the Cordillera region of the Philippines, and their activism staged in social media’s networked (and refracted) publics. Through participant observation of the online launch of #DefendCordilleraPH and its concurrent activities, I tentatively describe the contrasting qualities of the networked and refracted publics as potentially “expanding” the limited public spaces of domestic workers and the restrictive conditions of their labor in Hong Kong. Migrating online has demonstrated this transgressive “flexibility” of presence and participation that expanded the spatial and temporal limitations of their labor while at the same time allowing them to subvert their colonially abjected bodies as Indigenous peoples. Further, their online campaigns and activities that were brought about by several COVID19 pandemic and labor restrictions in place have also allowed the “relocation” and “expansion” of ancestral land rights advocacy into the digital topography that could potentially expand the reach of the discourses of “ancestral land” and its value to Indigenous migrants. Finally, while the state of Indigenous peoples and their activism remain increasingly “virulent” as their advocacies hope to get “viralized,” these qualities of Igorot activism in the digital diaspora reflect the distinct “pliancy” of the Igorot-domestic and how they could continue to overcome different forms of restrictions “away” from home.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022

Publication series

NameCreativity, Self, and Society Online Working Paper Series
PublisherFaculty of Arts, Hong Kong Baptist University


  • body
  • domestic worker
  • Hong Kong
  • Igotot
  • migrant activism
  • social media


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