Two numbers of the Revue Tiers-Monde have come into my hands. They show changing interests in the study of migration. While in the 1977 - Migrations et Développement issue, the issue of women's work migration is not addressed, the issue of 2002 - Femmes en domesticité. Les domestiques du Sud, au Nord et au Sud is completely dedicated to the phenomenon of women domestic workers.
The earlier number, from 1977, brought together a number of articles on migrating workers. There is no article referred to women and migration, which would be unimaginable if this magazine was published today. Two articles, one on migration towards the Gulf (Hill. Les travailleurs étrangers dans les pays du Golfe) and one on work migration from Philippines (Kayser. Un document sur l'émigration philippine) bear astonishingly no reference to women domestic workers, a phenomenon, which has been widely documented in the past years. Many women from Asia migrate to the Gulf to work as maids or cleaning staff in hospitals. Even literary work has been written on the issue (Dairy of a Maid in the Gulf). On the other hand, Philippine domestic workers are so well known, they almost a brand of maids.
The issue of 2002 is completely dedicated to domestic work, one of the main types of women migration together with sex work. There is an article on the domestic work market in Yemen (Destremau. L'emergence d'un marché du travail domestique au Yémen: une étude sur Sana'a.) and one on the migration of Philippine women to Paris(Des domestiques philippines à Paris: un marché modial de la domesticité?). Needles to say that Blandine, Marie, Laura et Aurélie wrote in this issue, while the earlier issue had been written by Bernard, Michel, Jean and Augustin.
Can we assume to be able to date the phenomenon of women migration with the help of scholarly accounts? Is the increase of interest in this phenomenon at the beginning of this century due to a real increase in the migration of women? Scholars like Laura Oso Casas question the newness of the phenomenon of women migration. Oso Casas, who has reviewed literature on the issue of domestic migration, cites the example of Spanish domestic workers which predates the interest on the issue. Many women from Spain and Portugal left Spain after the world war and the Franco regime to seek work outside. Typically many women left to work in German factories or in Parisian houses. Feminist criticism can account for the lack of interest in the late 70s, by white European male scholars. Women's migration did not seem to generate as much recourses as male migration, was marginal, did not exist. And if it existed it was accompanied by creating fears, describing the terrible dangers that were lurking at the poor girl.