Date of Award


Degree Type


Director of Thesis

Krista Van Fleit, PhD

First Reader

Lauren Steimer, PhD

Second Reader

Lauren Steimer, PhD


Foreign domestic helpers are one of the most common and unique sights in current-day Hong Kong. On the weekdays, they can be seen walking dogs, taking children to school, and completing chores around the house. On Sundays, they flood the streets in full force, relaxing and taking advantage of their one day off a week. This population faces many challenges during their time in Hong Kong – these challenges are modern as well as historical and include financial, governmental, emotional, and social challenges. Along with the challenges of day to day life, they also face challenges in that their stories are co-opted by various forms of media and they are shown in various ways without the opportunity to have their voices heard – their voices are invisible to many members of the Hong Kong population. A few examples of this include a Hong Kong art film that portrays the domestic helper as a completely loyal family servant, even in old age while a Hong Kong documentary attempts to portray these women as adventurous and outgoing, even if it is untrue that every foreign domestic helper falls into this mold. Even interviews that I conducted with a few selected foreign domestic helpers fails to completely convey their stories accurately, as I am writing from my individual perspective and not their own. Not only do these women leave their home countries and families for hard work in an unfamiliar place, but they also have to deal with the challenges involved in not being able to properly express themselves.

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© 2018, Lauren Ernst