The Food Geographies of Filipina Migrants in Beirut

Noura Nasser, Concordia University


All the photographs featured in this article were captured by the author, and permission was obtained from the participants to include them in this publication.

“My sister, for example, she’s coming from the Philippines, she will get me seeds, which I will plant. Or I will give the seeds to my friend, who will plant them in Jounieh where she works at the madam’s place who has a farm. So, she plants there, I will buy the harvest from her, or she will give me for free. If my sister is coming, she will get me milkfish and every other Pinoy products I need, or the Armenian friend downstairs, she’s getting containers of Philippines products; she sells them and she earns a lot of money. She’s loving my food and I’m loving her products.”— Sarah, Filipina migrant domestic worker

“All we need to do in this country is to save dollars. Today, the dollar is 58,000 Lebanese Lira, tomorrow, maybe 100, it is a marathon. [1]

 “All Lebanese are haram.[2] Some of the Lebanese and some of the Syrians are [robbing the Filipina in broad daylight], making them give away their earnings because they don’t have any.”—Sarah

These statements by Filipina migrants working in Beirut, evocative of a precarious state of living, provide a glimpse of creativity, maneuverability, risk-taking, new socioeconomic relationality, and racialization.[3] Overcoming poverty and vulnerability at home by migrating to another country entails the risk of further violence and subjugation for many workers. According to the latest estimates, there are about 250,000 African and Southeast Asian migrant domestic workers in Lebanon.[4] Despite anecdotal evidence that they are returning home due to worsening living conditions, there are still hundreds of thousands of migrants in the country. Their situation may be akin to what Rhacel Salazar Parrenãs presents in her book Unfree: Migrant Domestic Work in Arab States when workers willfully choose to migrate to the United Arab Emirates and endure the “unfreedom of [racialized] servitude over the unfreedom of poverty in the Philippines.”[5] Does this apply to the case of Lebanon?

Urban public space is rapidly changing and has been profoundly challenged in Lebanon as the dollar has hit a record low and the number of people living below the poverty line has rapidly expanded. For example, a series of protests at the Central Bank in early 2023 led to the closure of gas stations due to a sharp increase in fuel tariffs.[6] Locals and migrants share the unprecedented economic burden of high food costs (along with the expenses of provisioning, production, and consumption) amid political paralysis, economic depression, and a tragedy-ridden environment. Yet, migrant domestic workers in Lebanon, whether live-ins or live-outs, continue to work—legally or illegally—and are egregiously vulnerable to extreme poverty, abuse, and the discriminatory practices of the state.[7] In their “improvised lives” as Simone AbdouMaliq calls it, these migrants “carry [their] bodies forward and back between destinations that are altered in each approach, each retreat.”[8]

The kafala system, which regulates migration to Lebanon like elsewhere in the region, has been heavily critiqued for its racist, prejudiced, and exploitative features that govern the labor and living conditions of migrant domestic workers. With historical roots in the Gulf region, this system means that the contract of any foreigner entering an Arab state to work is connected to the kafeel or sponsor. Workers are allocated to a sponsor through a chaotic process of recruitment by placement agencies (located either in the sending or receiving countries) who manage this domestic work business. As such, for migrant domestic workers living within the quarters of their employers, it becomes challenging and nearly impossible for them to request support from the employers, state, and/or recruitment agencies to control, prevent, or even mitigate the risks that they are exposed to. Instead, it becomes the responsibility of migrant activists, NGOs, think-tanks, and migrants themselves. For the past four years, an Ethiopian-run organization, Egna Legna Besidet, has been fighting for the rights of migrant domestic workers with the aim of abolishing the kafala system. Their struggle serves as an inspiration to other migrant workers, motivating them to create organizations that are designed by and for migrants, such as Tres Marias, which advocates for education, economic empowerment, and societal change. Long-standing groups such as the Anti-Racism Movement, Alliance of Migrant Workers, and the Migrant Community Center, among more recent others such as Migrant Workers’ Action, have been rallying to educate and sensitize women about this oppressive regime.

Recent years have witnessed significant engagement with migratory routes, space, and race as scholars unpack the everyday resistance and informal networks of alliances that are conceived of and operationalized by migrant workers.[9] Food geographies have been recognized in the writing of many scholars, but seldom explored in the context of migrant domestic work in Lebanon. By food geographies, I mean the way food is grown, procured, arranged for, exchanged, and eventually packaged and sold in informal markets, shops, and restaurants, in specific localities and sometimes transnationally, across borders. Food geographies emphasize a different narrative: a narrative of conviviality, care, interdependence, and placemaking through food. In other words, migrants’ food geographies tell a story of struggling to make ends meet and adapting by selling food, transforming it, and saving money. It is a story inextricably interlaced with class, race, gender, religion, status, and other forms of difference in the domestic sphere and beyond. Identifying food geographies adds texture to stories of contemporary struggles and acknowledges migrants’ agency as they engage in diverse economic endeavors, which contribute to their social well-being and economic progress.[10]

Such a sensitivity to interlocutors’ agency is akin to what Alex Shams, Dalia Ibraheem, Gehad Abaza, and Elizabeth Saleh point out in their work about everyday struggles and manifestations of solidarity to resist structures of power. It is what Nasser Abourahme terms the “politics of inhabitation” in which “refugees and migrants hold ground but only temporarily until the right pathway is opened up.”[11] How, then, are migrants surviving and managing remittances? How are they relating to food from their home country and what sorts of food-centered survival strategies do they enact? In the process, how are they changing relationality and belonging in the city? This essay attempts to show how food becomes a site for encountering others to forge new socioeconomic connections and overcome racialization. It is about how food becomes a place for caring and staking a claim in the city. The food geographies I investigate form a crucial aspect of remittances, significantly contributing to the local economies of their countries of origin. Additionally, migrants’ food spaces play a vital and empowering role in providing social mobility for their own children. This empowerment is exemplified by the inspiring stories of women like Tina, Balma, Sarah, and others who generously shared their experiences during my field research.[12]

The Sunday Market, Street Food, and Placemaking  

Using pieces of an ethnographic vignette, I showcase the varied ways migrant workers create a sense of belonging and togetherness in a constantly disorienting and unlivable place.[13] Walking is how I came face-to-face with urban migrant food spaces. Steven Seidman writes, “urban streets promise more than steady flows. They offer sensual and intellectual excitements by exposing us to a collage of sounds, scents, sights, and chance happenings.”[14] It is also in walking that these women find pockets of freedom and experience the city on their “officially” permitted day off.[15] Walking helped me enter Filipina migrant food spaces in different neighborhoods. Although other Black and Brown migrant workers have created their own food spaces in the city, I focus on two live-ins whose working conditions “recognize them for their humanity,” a term Parrenãs introduces to indicate the relative freedom of mobility, which amongst other freedoms allows them to negotiate and conduct their food activities as opposed to being infantilized or dehumanized. [16]

At 7 am, I reached the Sunday Market, situated behind the renowned Horseshoe building on Cairo Street, which is also referred to as Little Manila in the Hamra neighborhood. A market scene unfolds in a transformed parking lot. It becomes a space where all kinds of encounters between people, things and infrastructures take place. Filipina migrants sell their food alongside Bengali, Syrian, Armenian, and local vendors who sell food and beauty products primarily to Filipina migrants. Outside the market, a middle-aged man sells salmon from iceboxes attached to the top of his parked car. Men keenly assist Filipina street vendors in setting up their impromptu food stalls, disassemble them, and sometimes even dedicate their day off to help until they are finished. Long established as a street that supported Filipino-run shops, it also reflects the fact that some Filipina women married Lebanese men and achieved their entrepreneurial dreams to abolish their sponsorship and obtain a license to work.

 Restrictions and Creativity in Racialized Urban Food Spaces

Forays between September and October 2022 started as part of the preliminary research for assessing the relations of geography and food work. Migrant food geographies revealed how placemaking is an important element of migration and racialization. It is unfathomable how a country that hosted migrant domestic workers for over three decades has not integrated their foodways into the mainstream. However, workers who married Lebanese men were able to open restaurants. These workers reside and rent in Hamra, Jnah, Badaro, Nabaa, Basta, Daora and other affordable places (see map), either alone or in partnership with others. Norah rents a place with a Bengali vegetable vendor and a Syrian part-time worker, who helps her with the cooking. She then sells her products at the Sunday Market with other Filipina women. Tina, who used to have a restaurant catering to an Ethiopian clientele, now makes injera and sells it to Ethiopian workers and other customers at Badaro’s farmers market every Sunday. Ethiopian domestic workers also prepare food and share it communally during religious celebrations at church or in the street. Betty, 36, shares the Ethiopian food her parents sent to her through a friend who came back from a holiday break in Addis Ababa. Food is carried in travel bags from Ethiopia to Beirut as a taste of home to those living here. Then, it is shared when friends meet up to eat together on their day off.

Figure 1 The areas I visited are located in the Beirut governate and are within 18 square km radius of the capital

Figure 2 The circled area is where the market takes place

Tina’s store displaying Ethiopian products and selling injera (Ethiopian sourdough flatbread made from teff flour).

Betty received Ethiopian food products from her family via a friend who went to Ethiopia and back, Hamra.

A close-up of the dish: kitfo is minced raw beef marinated in mitmita (a chili-powder-based spice blend), with mild cheese called ayibe and cooked greens known as gomen served on injera and kocho ( fermented flat bread made from enset).

Sarah, 56, is from Dagupan city on Luzon Island in the Philippines and she enacts her sense of place through food. Like many others, she moved to Lebanon seeking social and economic advancement. Sarah explained that acquiring domestic work (and eventual care work) was her key reason to migrate, so that she would then have the means to improve her family’s life resources and find happiness. She has been living in the country for three decades. Since she was married to a Palestinian man, she does not have the right to obtain Lebanese citizenship for herself or her daughter. Upon her divorce, she concentrated on cooking to support her daughter, whom she sent to the Philippines for a private education. She tells me,

I’ve been cooking since my daughter was 6 years old, and today she’s 23. I learned by watching my father cooking all the time, and it is still fresh in my mind. I am the eldest and when I was 8, I learned how to cook. That is because we’re living in poverty, and you must learn and be independent. I learned doing spring rolls and started selling them in the streets. That’s how I survived here in Lebanon. I raised my daughter based on my cooking enterprise because my husband is not supporting me anymore.

Even though she is a live-in domestic worker, her employers have granted her pathways to increase her savings. During the week, after domestic work at her employer’s home, Sarah prepares meals in her rented space on the second floor of an Armenian Lebanese trader’s shop for the Sunday market. Even though she gets paid as a live-in, she is reclaiming the occupational-entrepreneurial identity she created back in the Philippines.[17] Spread across the kitchen floor and counters are pots filled with typical meals such as: adobo, pork sisig, menudo, pancit canton and pancit bihon, chicharron, binagoongan baboy, spring rolls and other foodstuffs. Filipina women congregate and sometimes sleep over at Sarah’s kitchen. They depend on one another, relieve each other from debts, and have a strong friendship. They socialize around food as they share stories of deaths, sicknesses, intimacies, and returns home. It is all about building community for these isolated women. They also help Sarah prepare food and manage the sales on Sundays. Sometimes they arrange sleepovers and birthday parties. Sarah stresses how being independent allows her to escape the patriarchy and work restrictions she experiences in Lebanon.

Suzanne Hall’s reading of urban spaces in the streets reveals what she calls the “migrant’s’ paradox:” oscillating between the need to belong and finding protective ways to fend for themselves against discrimination.[18] As Sumayya Kassamali aptly puts it, “The kafala system is not simply a place where white Madames and Misters exploit their black servants. Instead, it is a system that produces the Lebanese citizen as white and Master, at the same time as it produces the African or Asian migrant as black and servant.”[19] It is legally impossible for migrants to open a shop without the support of Lebanese sponsors. Just as the kafala system produces racial and social hierarchies, the locations of food spaces are also subject to the social and sectarian orders of Lebanese society, which render placemaking possible.

The making of the city has been extensively researched over the past decades.[20] From this perspective, the ongoing process of shaping, reshaping, and transforming the city is, in part, driven by hierarchical and colonial dynamics and its inhabitants who are redefining exchange and work relations at both the territorial level and through the convergence of flows, global migration, and networks facilitating the interchange of goods, commodities, and their circulation. Critical scholarship on migrant (food) entrepreneurship, embodied placemaking and resourceful lifeworlds, show how migrants make sense of urban spaces as they open shops, procure businesses, and attain economic sufficiency.[21] I followed these women and paid attention to their resourcefulness and their interactions with others. When I asked Jane, a friend of Balma, if they collaborate with and know Sarah she told me, “The food that is sold here is from Zamboanga city in Mindanao, it is Muslim, no pork, Sarah cooks with pork.” Such regional variations reflect food identities and signify the real and metaphorical food journeys from their birthplaces as they traverse pathways to economic advancement. Each bite revealed new discoveries, and I felt touched by the generosity of spirit cooked into every dish. They always invited me in and offered me free food. I was fortunate to be invited to Sarah’s kitchen to make Turon with them during late Saturday nights. Their shared stories reveal collaborative survival strategies by which migrants “make do and get by.” [22]

For example, Sarah recounts how vegetables commonly used in Filipino dishes become readily available during the summer season, either brought by visiting friends from their home country or cultivated by Filipino gardeners within Lebanon. Not only does she make more money through selling her food at the market, but she also extends her generosity by providing surplus food to Filipinas suffering from insufficient nourishment due to challenging live-in working conditions. As well, Sarah clandestinely coordinates with doormen to deliver the food she prepared to the women in need. Sarah also establishes connections beyond the urban environment to secure access to pork produced on the agricultural property of a Filipina, whose husband operates a pig farming enterprise.[23]

Balma and others also reclaim the street as an urban food space in which the social and economic geographies they practice reflect the moral economy of labor migration and domestic work. They are unbothered by comments on the streets by masculinist and domineering shop owners, such as those of one Beiruti proprietor who said, “they [Filipina women] need to move their display of food products down the street, they are blocking our shop.”[24] These women skillfully dismiss those remarks.

Sarah at her wok station in the morning preparing pancit bihon and other meals, Hamra.

Freelance Filipina laborers who help Sarah on Sundays, Hamra 2022.

Street food selling slowly unfolds at Balma’s stand and friends start purchasing Pinoy street food, Hamra.

By taking over sections of the sidewalk and selling food, Filipina migrants are altering the way they are viewed, transitioning from being seen as passive workers to becoming self-driven, empowered, and resilient women. A taxi driver takes them back and forth to their employers’ homes. In such instances, users of the city are changing too, as interactions have become more open-ended and interconnected for the sake of economic betterment, thus obfuscating the social stratification experienced in the past.

These women sell the cuisine of their home countries, transact with local Pinoy food enterprises, and form alliances. They help one another earn extra money and disrupt the hegemonic patriarchal space of the streets. Food from elsewhere changes the urban space and politics of consumption too. Lebanese men are chipping into these food spaces and creating cross-cultural expressions. In what seems like a reversal of client-seller relations, the Lebanese are purchasing salmon too. Here, racialization of space through food is evident. Salmon was once a luxury item in Lebanon but is an indispensable food item in Southeast Asian cuisine.  As a “foreign” food with European connotations associated with conspicuous consumption, can the purchase of salmon by the Lebanese at the Sunday Market be seen as part of the continuous search for indulgence in the wake of rising food costs?

Possibilities of Migrant Urban Food Spaces

 For this brief essay, I examined Filipina migrant workers’ food geographies as they are unfolding in the streets of Hamra as well as some activities of Ethiopian food cultures in different parts of the city. Racialized food spaces often are performed in the urban margins yet provide areas for informal gatherings formed around feminist networks of care and sorority kinship. On a recent visit, I was invited to a massive migrants’ event organized by and for migrants by the Alliance of Migrant Workers, entitled Keeping Our Traditions Alive. Filipina, Ethiopian, Cameroonian, Kenyan, Sri Lankan, Malagasy, Ghanaian, Sierra Leonian, and many other women were side by side, sampling each other’s food, learning about defending their rights, selling their products, and abolishing the kafala system in different geographies around the city.

Female migrant workers, with the freedom to move around in the city, and return to their home countries occasionally, alongside their assemblies on weekends embody only some possibilities for imagining alternative food geographies and even movement and circulation of bodies and goods across border. Women are taking on more than one form of work and moving to the streets—whether formally or informally—to make ends meet. These social and economic logics of securing access to resources are redefining social relations, though ephemeral at times. Sarah, selling food and sharing it, builds a sense of belonging to two homelands: Lebanon and the Philippines. Yet she is cognizant that Lebanon is a place without a future; without citizenship there is only the concern to save money for her distant family and liberate herself from the “unfreedom of poverty in the Philippines.”[25]Domestic workers from Ethiopia are also getting involved in food work, bringing food to other Ethiopians along with a taste from home. Food then is either shared among their social circle as a gesture of kindness and diasporic belonging or retailed at small stores such as beauty and hair salons, which sell ethnic food and products as well.

As a way of conclusion, the city, as Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri write is “of course, not just a built environment consisting of buildings and streets and subways and parks and waste systems and communications cables but also a living dynamic of cultural practices, intellectual circuits, affective networks, and social institutions.”[26]  Migrant food geographies comprise many of these elements and such food spaces reflect an abundance of ingenuity and getting by in the wake of continued precarity and contingent belonging.[27] However, for migrant food geographies to thrive requires both the acknowledgement of their rights by employers in the micro-geographies of the household and at a minimum the support of the larger political community of the city where they live and purportedly belong. Making tactical connections with farmers, compatriots, and family back home becomes an economic choice to ensure migrants’ food spaces can flourish. Migrant food geographies in changing times provide an opportunity to search for the invisible and visible ways migrants stake a claim and negotiate the city. [28]




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AlJazeera, 14 March 2023,

Cirolia, Liza Rose, Suzanne Hall, and Henrietta Nyamnjoh. 2022. “Remittance Micro-Worlds and Migrant Infrastructure: Circulations, Disruptions, and the Movement of Money.” Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 47 (1): 63–76.

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Eaves, LaToya. “Fear of an Other Geography,” Dialogues in Human Geography 10, no. 1 (2020): 34–36.

Hall, Suzanne. City, Street and Citizen: The Measure of the Ordinary. Routledge Advances in Ethnography. Hoboken, NJ: Taylor and Francis, 2012.

Hall, Suzanne, Julia King, and Robin Finlay. “Migrant Infrastructure: Transaction Economies in Birmingham and Leicester, UK.” Urban Studies 54, no. 6 (2017): 1311–1327.

Hardt, Michael, and Antonio Negri. Commonwealth. Cambridge, MA.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2009.

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Kassamali, Sumayya. “What Is Race in the Kafala System?” Maid for Each website, an extension of the film Makhdoumin, Chapter 4: Black and White. 2021.

__________. “Migrant Worker Lifeworlds of Beirut.” Doctoral dissertation, Columbia University, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, 2017.

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L’Orient-Le Jour, “Collapsing Lira, Closed Gas Stations, Protests: A Complicated Morning in Lebanon.”  January 25, 2023.

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Monk, Janice. “Place Matters: Comparative International Perspectives on Feminist Geography.” The Professional Geographer 46, no. 3 (1994): 277–288.

Moukarbel, Nayla. “Sri Lankan Housemaids in Lebanon: A Case of ‘Symbolic Violence’ and ‘Everyday Forms of Resistance.’” Imiscoe Dissertations. Amsterdam, Netherlands: Amsterdam University Press, 2009.

Pande, Amrita. “’Weekend-Families’ of Migrant Domestic Workers in Lebanon.” In

Migrant Domestic Workers and Family Life: International Perspectives, edited by Maria Kontos and Glenda Tibe Bonifacio, 300–316. Migration, Diasporas and Citizenship. Houndmills, Basingstoke Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015.

Parreñas, Rhacel Salazar. Unfree: Migrant Domestic Work in Arab States. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2021.

Pratt, Geraldine. “From Registered Nurse to Registered Nanny: Discursive Geographies of Filipina Domestic Workers in Vancouver, B.C.” Economic Geography 75, no. 3 (1999): 215–236.

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Simitian, Z. Anahid. “Infrastructures of Food Security and Food Sovereignty in Lebanon.” Society and Space Journal, Investigating Infrastructures III 40, no. 6 (2022).

Simone, AbdouMaliq. “People as Infrastructure: Intersecting Fragments in Johannesburg.” Public Culture 16, no. 3 (2004): 407–429.

­­­­___________________. For the City Yet to Come: Changing African Life in Four Cities. Durham: Duke University Press, 2004.

Wentworth, Richard. “Making Do and Getting By.” Artscribe, no. 14, September 1978, pp. 21-3.

Zein, Dalia. “Performance Et Exclusion: La Place Du Corps Au Sein Du Mouvement Intersectionnel des Travailleuses Domestiques Migrantes au Liban.” Homme & La Société 214/215, no. 1 (2021).

Zein, Dalia. “Embodied Placemaking: Filipina Migrant Domestic Workers’ Neighborhood in Beirut.” Mashriq & Mahjar Journal of Middle East and North African Migration Studies 7, no. 2 (2020).

Ziadee, Kamil Micheline. “Migrant Infrastructures in Beirut.” Master’s Thesis, American University of Beirut, 2017.


[1] The dollar has plummeted to 100,000 Lebanese pounds at the time of writing this piece. See: Al-Jazeera, “Lebanon’s currency value plunges to 100,000 against US dollar.” The erratic devaluation of the lira is not only changing economic relations but also socialization in a particularly striated society is perceived to be transforming entire neighborhoods.

[2] The term “haram” originally means something culturally forbidden or sinful in an Islamic sense. However, in this context, it has become part of an everyday vernacular which is articulated to express sympathy. In the quote above, Sarah is proficient in the colloquial Lebanese Arabic language—further indicating complex relations of undervaluation and neglect to how many migrants effortlessly master a difficult language of the country they move to. In this case, she uses it flawlessly to say, “oh, poor thing,” or “I sympathize with the situation of Lebanese people.”

[3] The initial interviews for this research took place in the Hamra neighborhood from October to January 2023, and the migrant workers’ accounts featured in this article are drawn from these interactions.

[4] Human Rights Watch, “World Report 2022: Events of 2021.”

[5] Rhacel Salazar Parreñas, Unfree: Migrant Domestic Work in Arab States (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2021), 54.

[6] L’Orient-Le Jour (2023, January 25). Collapsing Lira, Closed Gas Stations, Protests: A Complicated Morning in Lebanon.

[7] I use the term “live-in” to refer to female migrant domestic workers who are legally obligated to reside in their employers’ homes. These live-ins typically remain within the family’s quarters, as they adhere to traditional societal norms that limit women to household roles. On the other hand, “live-outs” are migrant workers who choose to live outside their employers’ homes. Some live-outs may have been formally recruited through standard sponsorship processes with employers like banks, ministries, or other institutions. However, there are also live-outs who escape from their employers’ homes, opting to live on the fringes of society. In these situations, their rights are often violated, but they strive to maintain their dignity. Estimating the ratio of live-ins to live-outs is challenging because many live-ins effectively become illegal live-outs under the sponsorship system. This makes it difficult to determine the exact numbers of each group.

[8] AbdouMaliq Simone, For the City Yet to Come: Changing African Life in Four Cities (Durham: Duke University Press, 2004), 10.

[9] Simone Anna Reumert, “Good Guys, Mad City: Etiquettes of Migration Among Sudanese Men in Beirut.” Mashriq & Mahjar: Journal of Middle East and North African Migration Studies 7, no. 2 (2020). See also Sumayya Kassamali, “Migrant Worker Lifeworlds of Beirut,” PhD Dissertation. Columbia University, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, 2017.

[10] Lisa Law, “Home Cooking: Filipino Women and Geographies of the Senses in Hong Kong,” Ecumene 8, no. 3 (2001): 264–283.

[11] Nasser Abourahme, in this issue and his piece on the politics of inhabitation

[12] Liza Rose Cirolia, Suzanne Hall, and Henrietta Nyamnjoh, “Remittance Micro-Worlds and Migrant Infrastructure: Circulations, Disruptions and the Movement of Money,” Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers.

[13] Daily concerns about the capricious fluctuation of the Lebanese pound and selling imported products based on world market prices is difficult. For a more in-depth analysis of racial formations, race, and racialization in the region and how Black Sudanese women overcome gendered and racial discrimination see the valuable work of Gehad Abaza.

[14] Steven Seidman, “The Politics of Cosmopolitan Beirut: From the Stranger to the Other,” Theory, Culture & Society 29, no. 2 (2012): 3.

[15] Although the standard employment contract stipulates one day off every week for migrant domestic workers, many employers do not provide it. Since the contract is written in Arabic and rarely translated or explained to domestic workers they are not always aware of their rights.

[16] In a rigorous ethnographic study of migrant domestic workers in Dubai, Rhacel Salazar Parrenãs concludes that the absence of domestic labor laws leads to three cultures of domestic work across the UAE: infantilization, dehumanization, and recognition of the humanity of domestic workers. Parreñas, Unfree: Migrant Domestic Work in Arab States, (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2021): 150.

[17] Geraldine Pratt, “From Registered Nurse to Registered Nanny: Discursive Geographies of Filipina Domestic Workers in Vancouver, B.C.,” Economic Geography 75, no. 3 (1999): 215–236.

[18] Suzanne Hall, City, Street and Citizen: The Measure of the Ordinary, Routledge Advances in Ethnography (Hoboken: Taylor and Francis, 2012).

[19] Sumayya Kassamali, “What is Race in the Kafala System?” Makhdoumin, “Maid for Each” documentary website, Chapter 4: Black and White,

[20] Ash Amin and Nigel Thrift, Cities: Reimagining the Urban (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2002); AbdouMaliq Simone, “People as Infrastructure: Intersecting Fragments in Johannesburg,” Public Culture 16, no. 3 (2004): 407–429; Doreen B Massey, For Space (London: SAGE, 2005); Suzanne Hall, Julia King and Robin Finlay, “Migrant Infrastructure: Transaction Economies in Birmingham and Leicester, UK,” Urban Studies 54, no. 6 (2017): 1311–1327.

[21] Assaf Dahdah, L’art du faible: Les migrantes non arabes dans le Grand Beyrouth (Liban) Vol. 7. (Beirut: Institut Français du Proche-Orient, 2012); Sumayya Kassamali, “Migrant Worker Lifeworlds of Beirut,” doctoral dissertation, Columbia University, 2017; Dalia Zein, “Embodied Placemaking: Filipina Migrant Domestic Workers’ Neighborhood in Beirut,” Mashriq & Mahjar Journal of Middle East and North African Migration Studies 7, no. 2 (2020); Kamil Micheline Ziadee, “Migrant Infrastructures in Beirut,” master’s thesis, American University of Beirut, 2017; Amrita Pande, “’Weekend-Families’ of Migrant Domestic Workers in Lebanon,” in Migrant Domestic Workers and Family Life: International Perspectives, edited by Maria Kontos and Glenda Tibe Bonifacio, 300–316, Migration, Diasporas and Citizenship (Houndmills, Basingstoke Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015); Nayla Moukarbel, “Sri Lankan Housemaids in Lebanon: A Case of ‘Symbolic Violence’ and ‘Everyday Forms of Resistance.’” Imiscoe Dissertations. Amsterdam Univ. Press, 2009; Rhacel Salazar Parreñas, Unfree: Migrant Domestic Work in Arab States. (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2021).

[23] Pork is not universally abundant as a protein source in Lebanon, but it is enjoyed by certain communities. In recent years, there has been a rise in small-scale pig farms, contributing “high-quality pork” to the culinary diversity of Lebanon, even in the wake of challenging times marked by hyperinflation and an economic downturn.

[24] A shop proprietor in his late 70s told me how he is one of the indigenous Christian families in Hamra, asserting his history of place and obviously irritated by its changing demographics.

[25] Rhacel Salazar Parreñas, Unfree: Migrant Domestic Work in Arab States (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2021), 153.

[26] Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri. Commonwealth (Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2009: 154).

[27] LaToya Eaves, “Fear of an Other Geography,” Dialogues in Human Geography 10, no. 1 (2020), 34–36 and Janice Monk, “Place Matters: Comparative International Perspectives on Feminist Geography,” The Professional Geographer 46, no. 3 (1994), 277–288.

[28] Imported food supplies are increasingly unaffordable with the global rise in oil prices, cost of living, and inflation, especially for a state that imports more than 85 percent of its food. See Anahid Z. Simitian,  “Infrastructures of Food Security and Food Sovereignty in Lebanon,” Society and Space Journal, Investigating Infrastructures III 40, no. 6 (2022).