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Religions 2013, 4(4), 621-643; doi:10.3390/rel4040621

Silent Bodies in Religion and Work: Migrant Filipinas and the Construction of Relational Power

Department of Social Anthropology and History, University of the Aegean, Mytilene 81100, Greece
Received: 31 October 2013 / Revised: 20 November 2013 / Accepted: 28 November 2013 / Published: 4 December 2013
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Body and Religion)
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Abstract

The present article explores the relationship of silences, as vocal and non-vocal bodily practices, to forms of power in religion and work. More specifically, it focuses on Filipina domestic workers in Greece who are members of Iglesia ni Cristo, an independent Filipino church. In the hierarchical contexts of the church and paid domestic work, where the church expands its influence, silence is a dominant embodied religious ethos, an ideal behavior for female workers and an expression of obedience. This silence enhances women’s subordination resulting in strict power relationships. Silencing the body, however, is also an agential practice of Filipina immigrants themselves, a tool to transform power relationships into more reciprocal ones. By reflective and unreflective practices of bodily silence, migrant Filipinas reverse subjection, transform the power relationships in which they are involved and attribute to them a more relational character.
Keywords: religion; silence; body; Iglesia ni Cristo; domestic work; immigration; Filipinas; Greece religion; silence; body; Iglesia ni Cristo; domestic work; immigration; Filipinas; Greece
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Topali, P. Silent Bodies in Religion and Work: Migrant Filipinas and the Construction of Relational Power. Religions 2013, 4, 621-643.

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