A Regime Analysis: Evidence from Sri Lankan Migrant Domestic Workers’ Journeys to Saudi Arabia


  • Wasana S. Handapangoda Johannes Kepler University




In this article, I use qualitative methods to examine the concept of a regime for migrant care based on Sri Lankan women’s transnational mobility as migrant domestic workers to Saudi Arabia. My work thus contributes to the growing body of literature on migrant care regimes from a Global South perspective, which to date has still received insufficient scholarly attention. The Sri Lanka–Saudi migrant care regime, shaped by a transnational consciousness of the possibilities for accumulation and production through reproductive labour, is located at a convergence of “translocal” gender, care, employment and migration systems. The regime is (re)produced through the relations and tensions between the family, the state and the market in an interchange of the dynamics of capitalist market forces and structural relations on various levels. The colour “brown” has emerged as a new racial classification in the global domestic sector, where power and subjectivity are constantly evolving. I argue that domestic work, which continues to be constructed as “women’s work”, represents an embodiment both of the subordination of women and of their personal autonomy. This, in turn, has broader implications for the meaning of feminine/masculine, motherhood/fatherhood, home and work.

KEYWORDS: paid domestic labour; migrant domestic workers; care regime; Saudi Arabia; Sri Lanka