Indigenous Knowledge Systems and Migration
The utility of indigenous approaches for strengthening migration data collection and migrant worker assistance
Human migration, even temporary labor migration, is a cultural experience—what norms there are around the particular work that one is doing, the expectations for men and women to fulfill certain roles, the similarities and differences of values between the worker and the employer, these are all shaped by culture—they vary, they can be shared widely or by only a small group, they become salient at different times and contexts, and they can change over time. As such, it can be detrimental to migrant worker services for solutions to be thought of as universal and unchanging, and as being able to produce the expected results for everyone if they have been found to be consistently effective for some.
Globally, there is growing recognition that policy should be informed by indigenous knowledge systems. Indigenous knowledge frameworks and methodologies have been used productively to inform health policies, support mental health and well-being, foster sustainable development, and respond to climate change. These topics have some relevance for Filipino migrant workers, and we can therefore expect indigenous approaches to understanding their experiences and issues to be fruitful. Having a better understanding of context, culture, and patterns of communication can lead to improving our responses, their relevance, and their accessibility.