Liberty Chee

Hello, and welcome to my portfolio site. Here you will find information about my research, teaching, and work in the non-profit and non-academic sectors.  

WorkS in Progress

The Problem of Domestic Work at the International Labour Organization

This paper examines the processes of attempting to set standards for one of the largest labour sectors in the world that employs women. It demonstrates how the International Labour Organization is a boundary organisation that co-produces hybrid knowledge about domestic work through the iterative engagement of experts, practitioners and laypersons. The paper offers problematisation as an approach with which to understand this process of knowledge production. I deploy problematisation in two senses - as a mode of analysis (an activity, method) and an object of inquiry (a problem). To problematise is to make something recognisable, thinkable and actionable. Problematisation is the constitution of an object of thought (here “domestic work”) through discourse (logos), techniques (techne) and action (praxis). Concretely, this means examining the truth claims made about what domestic work, the tools or instruments used to fortify these claims and calls for action. In its second sense, the problematisation of domestic work shows its evolution from a non-problem, to a problem of the law, and then of the economy.

Read and download the working draft here.


This paper examines how migrant domestic workers subvert domination, exploitation and subjection through performances in TikTok videos. Through this medium, workers exercise autonomy in severely restrictive employment and living conditions, where collective action may not only be improbable but also illegal. I argue that these videos demonstrate Foucauldian counter-conduct or the “art of not being governed so much”. Counter-conduct is a form of resistance distinct to those who have limited access to the public sphere, due in part to the gendered nature of cooking, cleaning and caring. Domestic work is not normally included in labour laws, and the place of employment are private homes. This makes it difficult to organise or make rights claims. I build on literatures of everyday resistance to examine the practices and subjectivities by migrant domestic workers in Gulf countries. In so doing, so-called “modern slaves”, enact freedom, already present, as subjects of ethics and politics.

Read and download here

Play and Counter-Conduct: Migrant Domestic Workers on TikTok (Open Access)

Being of Use: Diffraction and an Ethics of Truth-Telling in Post-Cartesian IR (open access)


This paper presents an ethics premised on a post-Cartesian ontology: that what we know is how we know and vice versa. The acknowledgment of the international relations (IR) scholar's constitutive relation to the world she seeks to describe, and of which she is a part, entails an ethics that is also a practice and an agency. I build on Karen Barad's quantum theory and on Michel Foucault's notion of parrhesia to address two problems in IR theory, namely that reflexivity and the pragmatist call for praxis pay insufficient attention to how power conditions knowledge production. Barad offers an “ethico-onto-epistemology” as a nonrepresentationalist methodology, which attends to the material difference knowledge can make rather than the accuracy of our representations. Parrhesia, in turn, problematizes our relationship with the activity of knowing itself. In the pragmatist sense, we are asked not only to be of use to our communities, but also to be mindful of who we are and what kind of subject we become in our phenomenal inscriptions of reality. This quantum ethic allows us to better realize the pragmatist ideal of a democratic social science by allowing us to resist the centripetal force of epistemic sovereignty and the cooptation of scientific authority.

Read and download here. 

March 24, 2022

Some professional news. I have been awarded a Marie Curie Fellowship to be taken up at Ca'Foscari University in Venice. #KnowingDOM will investigate how various actors engage the International Labour Organization in making knowledge claims about domestic work. This project will draw from notions of civic epistemology and the sociality of knowledge production in feminist science studies. The latter attend to different sources of epistemic authority, including voices 'from below.' The project will analyze the discourses, practices and actions culminating in the ILO's Convention on Domestic Work (C189) and inquire into how the ILO's norm-setting activities diffuse to and from a regional organization (the European Union). 

'SUPERMAIDS': Hyper-resilient subjects in neoliberal migration governance (OPEN ACCESS)


Resilience is a concept in world politics that emerged as a way to respond to the impossibility of guaranteeing security in an era of complexity. Without a central authority to provide security, risk is devolved to the individual. Those who cannot secure themselves are enjoined to constantly adapt to the unknown. Where control over complex systems is now thought to be impossible, the path to managing risks is through self-control. This paper demonstrates how such a subject is produced, and indeed whose production, I argue, is crucial to the functioning of a global labor market that is governed “without government.” Migrant domestic workers acutely instantiate the kind of human subjectivity called forth by neoliberalism—a “resilient subject.” The paper describes how this ideal worker is produced through resilience training in various stages of the migration trajectory—during recruitment, training prior to deployment, and while on their overseas residency. This paper demonstrates how managing the insecurities of migrant domestic work means working on the “self” rather than addressing gaps in legal or regulatory mechanisms. In resilience training, the worker becomes the necessary component of neoliberalism as a governmental rationality, one that is enjoined to transform risk into opportunity.

ASEAN 0n Migrant Rights: Making Process, Not Progress

I was invited by 9Dashline to write a commentary on the state of migrant workers' rights in ASEAN. 

Women in natural disasters: indicative findings in unraveling gender in institutional responses 

An ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) Thematic Study. 

A project undertaken with colleagues at the Department of Political Science, Ateneo de Manila University.  

being feeble: on portrayals of competence and control in the recounting of fieldwork

This is a paper I wrote for an early career workshop at the European International Studies Association annual conference in 2018. This paper talks about the embodied experience of doing fieldwork. It reflects on what insights we might gain by employing experience-near methods in IR. 

Bigkis ng Lahi (Ties that Bind)

A documentary on the impact of large-scale mining on indigenous peoples of Mindoro island. A project for Non-Timber Forest Products Exchange Programme for South and Southeast Asia, funded by Dutch foundation CordAid. Co-production with director and cinematographer Butch Maddul.

Does ‘Decolonizing IR’ need to Decolonize?

Does ‘decolonizing IR’ need to decolonize? A conversation with Early Career Scholars 

(Recorded June 2020, hosted at the Youtube channel of the Nepal Institute for International Cooperation and Engagement)

In this chat, we discuss several issues that have been raised by recent debates around decolonizing IR. Does the Decolonizing IR scholarship reflect enough on its representation bias against scholarship from the Global South? What are the actual problems scholars in the Global South face which are different from the scholars working in the Global North? How do we address accusations about ‘weak methodology’ in Global South scholarship? What are the ways in which bullying, exploitation and precarity affect scholarship? And finally, how do young scholars view their own responsibility to their fellow scholars in the Global South?