Stephanie is a teacher and scholar whose work is situated in the intersections of Gender Studies, Critical Development Studies, and Asian Diasporic Studies. She grew up in the Philippines, where she worked as a journalist and researcher for various NGOs before pursuing her PhD in Gender Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles. Her writing examines the relationship between globalization, neoliberalism, and uneven economic development from the perspectives of women from the Global South.
Her dissertation, “The Kabuhayan Index: Neoliberalism and Gendered Dispossession in the Philippines,” studies how market-based development and anti-poverty strategies (e.g., labor export, housing, and disaster management) serve to negate Filipina women's practices of kabuhayan – a Filipino word that roughly translates to kinship-based livelihoods and socialities that are vital to Filipina women's well-being. This destruction of kabuhayan co-opts disenfranchised Filipina women into the flows of global capital and labor. In her dissertation, she studied how marginalized Filipinas resist their relegation into gendered bare life through their life-making practices of kabuhayan.
At Rice, Stephanie will continue revising her manuscript to examine the women-led “Occupy Housing” movement in the Philippines—where displaced urban poor residents “occupied” public housing intended for soldiers and police—as assertions of kabuhayan. She also begins her next research projects on globalization and gender. In Houston, she will conduct research on Asian immigrant women’s community loan groups (Filipino American women’s paluwagan and Vietnamese American women’s hui) as practices of kabuhayan, especially for diasporic communities who do not have access to mainstream capitalist institutions. Her second project examines neoliberal indices (e.g., gender empowerment measures, income gaps) as “technologies of knowledge” (Merry 2016) that contribute to gendered forms of displacement and violence, especially for women in the Global South.