Crafting Love: letters and cassette tapes in transnational Filipino family communication

Madianou, Mirca and Miller, Daniel. 2011. Crafting Love: letters and cassette tapes in transnational Filipino family communication. South East Asian Research, 19(2), pp. 249-272. [Article]

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This paper provides a historical perspective on communication among Filipino transnational families. Before the explosion of communication channels and opportunities accompanying the arrival of mobile telephony, cheap international calls and the Internet in the late 1990s, communication between migrant parents and left-behind children was dominated by letters and cassette tapes. For mothers who arrived in the UK in the 1970s, these were the main means of communication for almost two decades. The authors' research is based on a one-year-long ethnographic study of Filipino migrants in the London and Cambridge areas of the UK, who typically came to the UK after periods in the Middle East or Hong Kong and were employed as domestic workers or nurses. These were mainly mothers separated from their families for almost the whole of their children's development. Apart from fieldwork with mothers, many of whom recall this early period of their migration as being dominated by letters and cassettes, fieldwork was also conducted in the Philippines, where the mothers' now grown-up children were interviewed. The authors compare the accounts of the mothers and children, and the different qualities associated with letters and cassettes, such as temporality, materiality and the public–private distinction. They examine how the different types of media structure relationships between parents and children and how these media are appropriated in the context of different relationships as part of our understanding of the dialectical nature of media as a process of mediation.

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Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Media, Communications and Cultural Studies



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Date Deposited:

26 Oct 2015 12:47

Last Modified:

16 Apr 2021 14:58

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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