A Nation on the Line

Call Centers as Postcolonial Predicaments in the Philippines

Book Pages: 248 Illustrations: 5 illustrations Published: April 2018

Author: Jan M. Padios

Anthropology > Cultural Anthropology, Asian American Studies, Sociology > Urban Studies

In 2011 the Philippines surpassed India to become what the New York Times referred to as "the world's capital of call centers." By the end of 2015 the Philippine call center industry employed over one million people and generated twenty-two billion dollars in revenue. In A Nation on the Line Jan M. Padios examines this massive industry in the context of globalization, race, gender, transnationalism, and postcolonialism, outlining how it has become a significant site of efforts to redefine Filipino identity and culture, the Philippine nation-state, and the value of Filipino labor. She also chronicles the many contradictory effects of call center work on Filipino identity, family, consumer culture, and sexual politics. As Padios demonstrates, the critical question of call centers does not merely expose the logic of transnational capitalism and the legacies of colonialism; it also problematizes the process of nation-building and peoplehood in the early twenty-first century. 


"As an example of the transnational turn in Asian American studies, Padios’s book gives us insight into how work is being reinvented, and the ways in which this reinvention has muddled distinctions between the United States and a place like the Philippines." — Min Hyoung Song, Public Books

"Jan M. Padios describes with colorful detail the ways that neoliberalism draws upon Filipino/American relatability to garner profits, cheaply pay Filipinos, and serve U.S.-based customers within the call center industry." — Giselle Cunanan, Ethnic and Racial Studies

"A Nation on the Line is relevant to audiences interested in Filipino diasporic migrations, transnational Filipino identities, and transnational labor studies writ large. The author provides an analysis of the global political economy that echoes other work on the production and management of global Filipino labor; however, this work simultaneously lends a clarity to the subjective identities and affective and relational aspect of labor that has yet to be fully explored among this group of workers." — Fumilayo Showers, American Journal of Sociology

"A Nation on the Line provides a fascinating and provocative lens to view the central role of the Philippines in the call center industry. Jan M. Padios's ethnographic study illuminates the impact of outsourcing jobs from the United States on Filipino lives and Philippine national identity formations, exploring both the promise and precarity of this new type of labor for its workforce and our increasingly global economy." — Catherine Ceniza Choy, author of Empire of Care: Nursing and Migration in Filipino American History

"Expansively imagined and theoretically rigorous, A Nation on the Line makes an important contribution to the study of globalization, transnationalism, and late neoliberal capitalism. It is sure to reset the research agenda in the anthropology of labor, Philippine studies, American studies, and beyond." — Martin F. Manalansan IV, author of Global Divas: Filipino Gay Men in the Diaspora


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Price: $25.95

Open Access

Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Jan M. Padios is Assistant Professor of American Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments  ix
Introduction  1
1. Listening Between the Lines: Relational Labor, Productive Intimacy, and the Affective Contradictions of Call Center Work  34
2. Contesting Skill and Value: Race, Gender, and Filipino/American Relatability in the Neoliberal Nation-State  63
3 Inside Vox Elite: Call Center Training and the Limits of Filipino/American Relatability  93
4. Service with a Style: Aesthetic Pleasures, Productive Youth, and the Politics of Consumption  131
5. Queering the Call Center: Sexual Politics, HIV/AIDS, and the Crisis of (Re)Production  157
Conclusion  181
Notes  189
Bibliography  213
Index  225
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-7059-8 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-7047-5
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