Warm heart and warm hands: The case of Filipino migrant nurses in Germany

  • Cleovi C. Mosuela


The article focuses on how migrant nurses embody both the positive and negative aspects involved in their increasingly mobile profession. The paper illustrates the experiences of Philippine-trained nurses in hospital environments in Germany in terms of their understanding and delivery of care and interaction with their patients and colleagues. Recent literature on the emigration of Philippine-trained nurses centers mostly on the broader contexts of the politics of care work. By drawing on health and care work and migration research and utilizing the concept of ‘body work’, I argue that performing the corporeal dimension of nursing care becomes a critical point of defining care work. On the one hand, demonstrating a warm heart and warm hands, nurses use their bodies to be able to make positive contributions to the patient’s quality of life. On the other hand, the patient’s body is the immediate site of hard physical labor that involves close, intimate, and often messy work. Shifting the focus from the production of nurses and the larger constitutive structures to the Filipino migrant nurses themselves performing body work allows for a nuanced view of the labor migration process and highlights topics of importance to the people involved, particularly their agency, such as migration decisions, adjusting well to the new workplace in a different society, and ‘othering’. The data is drawn from a long-term ethnographic study of the recruitment and migration process of nurses from the Philippines to Germany.

Author Biography

Cleovi C. Mosuela
Dr. des. Cleovi C. Mosuela, Bielefeld Graduate School in History and Sociology and Faculty of Sociology, Bielefeld University. cleovi.mosuela@uni-bielefeld.de