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Dr. Roderick Galam

Freie Universität Berlin

Center for Area Studies

Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology

Postdoctoral Fellow

Fabeckstr. 23-25
Room -1.1117
14195 Berlin


2012: Doctor of Philosophy in Social Science

Cardiff University

2009: Postgraduate Diploma in Social Science

Cardiff University

2001: Master of Arts in Comparative Literature

University of the Philippines (Diliman)

1995: Bachelor of Science in Education

University of the Philippines (Diliman)



2014: World Social Science Fellow - Global Social Governance

International Social Science Council, Paris

2009: Finalist, National Book Award


Title of research project:

Precarity and Biography: Filipino Seafarers Negotiating Job Insecurity in the Global Maritime Industry

Focus of research:

Precarious work; labor migration from the Philippines; seafarers; gender, subjectivity, and agency; consequences of migration on families and relationships; temporality; qualitative research; ethnography


Global maritime industry; Filipino seafarers; precarity; future; job insecurity; biography; labor outsourcing

Regional focus:

Southeast Asia: Philippines


Work is intimately linked to people’s identity and agency. It provides them with a means to realize aspirations and life goals, and to fulfil their responsibilities to other people. It helps define their social position and standing and provides a way by which people negotiate their present and future. Precarity erodes this link. What happens when work becomes a source of insecurity? How do workers negotiate their present and future when periods of employment are always followed by periods of unemployment and the threat of never being employed again is constant? Drawing on the literature on precarity in flexible capitalism and on social navigation, this project will examine how Filipino seafarers negotiate precarity and its consequences on their lives.

The ‘precariatization’ of seafarer employment that followed in the wake of the shipping industry’s globalization and neoliberlization has diminished seafarers’ capacity to plot their spatial, temporal, and socio-material locations and changed the conditions that frame their negotiation of their present and future. But questions about the relation between their precarious work and biography remain scarcely studied. Studies that have examined the precarious condition of workers in globalization and neoliberalization, and the consequences of this insecurity on the career prospects, trajectories, lives, and character of workers have focused mainly on those working in the financial, banking, or other service-oriented sectors of the economy. Very few have looked at the condition of seafarers. The few studies that have framed the situation of seafarers within the discourse of precarity have focused mainly on health and safety and have not explicitly examined how the lives of seafarers and the families who depend on them are affected by precarious employment, by how precarity reorganizes or destabilizes the material, social, and economic foundations of their identities and lives. This project seeks to address this lacuna by focusing on the case of Filipino seafarers who comprise almost 30 percent of all seafarers in the world.

Empirical research for this study will be conducted in Manila. The fieldwork includes interviews with seafarers, their wives, children, and other family members who depend on them; Philippine government officials; representatives of employment agencies (known in the shipping world as crewing agencies); and staff of non-government organizations focused on maritime industry issues. The research also includes conducting non-participant observations of pre-departure orientation programs for seafarers as well as an ethnographic study of Filipino seafarers looking for work at what has been called "the seafarers' market" in Manila.


Galam, Roderick. 2008. The Promise of the Nation: Gender, History, and Nationalism in Contemporary Ilokano Literature. Quezon City, Philippines: Ateneo de Manila Uni-versity Press.


Peer-Reviewed Articles

Galam, Roderick. Cultures of Ilokano Migration. Asian and Pacific Migration Journal. (accepted)


Galam, Roderick. 2012. Communication and Filipino Seamen’s Wives: Imagined Communion and the Intimacy of Absence. Philippine Studies 60.2: 223-260.


Galam, Roderick. 2010. (En)Countering Martial Law: Rhythmanalysis, Urban Experience in Metro Manila, and Ilokano Literature (1980-1984). Philippine Studies 58.4: 481-522.


Galam, Roderick. 2008. Narrating the Dictator(ship): Social Memory, Marcos, and Ilokano Literature after the 1986 Revolution. Philippine Studies 56.2:151-182.


Galam, Roderick. 2003a. ‘We Wanted Justice and Got the Rule of Law’: Literary Representations of the State, Social Justice and the Rule of Law. Philippine Law Journal 77.4: 476-507.


Galam, Roderick. 2003b. Gabriela Silang, the Alsa Masa of 1763, and the Struggle for a Filipino Nation. Philippine Humanities Review 6: 26-43.


Galam, Roderick. 2001. Defending a Place in the Nation: Gender, Class, and State Oppression in Gil-ayab ti Daga. Humanities Diliman 2.1: 69-105.


Galam, Roderick. 2000a. Re-membering Women into the Nation: Discourses of Gender, Nation, and Nationalism in the Poetry of Hermilinda Lingbaoan-Bulong. Kasarinlan: A Philippine Journal of Third World Studies 16.1: 31-70.


Galam, Roderick. 2000b. Re-membering Women into the Nation: The Poetry of Hermilinda Lingbaoan-Bulong. Diliman Review 48.4: 56-67.