Social Science Diliman, Vol 8, No 2 (2012)

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Salam: Of Dislocation, Marginality and Flexibility

Efenita M. Taqueban

Abstract


This paper reconstructs the life stories of residents of SalamCompound. The compound serves as entry point for many Muslim migrants who leave the southern Philippines. Salam is both a refuge and a halfway point. A sense of dislocation permeates the stories. Dislocation begins with the movement away from a homeland that is familiar and defining of identity. The dislocation is, in a sense, an escape, a desperate project to avoid armed conflict in the southern Philippines or a desperate enterprise in search of work.Salam is a halfway point for transients prospecting for overseas work, the staging area for a global labor exodus. The sense of dislocation is not unlike locating oneself in the margins, portrayed in the residents’ negotiated identitiesand spaces, constantly challenged, implicitly regulated. Dislocation is also depicted as flexibility, portrayed by the residents making do and their everyday creative resistance and struggle in new locations in the city. Gathered throughethnographic method, the stories offer a glimpse into the lives of the residents of the compound, how they negotiate around social constructions of identities — resisting and accommodating internal and external forces that impinge ontheir lives, revealing a rich and poignant tapestry of family relations, community ironies and an ever-impinging world beyond its walls.

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