Labor Pioneers - the book

Labor Pioneers
- the book

In the making since 2010. Published by Ateneo de Manila University Press in 2019.
Available in bookstores globally. For orders in Denmark and the Nordic countries, you can also contact the author directly on

For orders in Europe the book can be shipped from IIRE in Amsterdam

For orders in the Americas, contact University of Hawaii Press

They called themselves the Filipino Pioneers, the generation of workers who came to Denmark from 1960 to 1973. It was the era of European "guest worker" recruitment that in Denmark ended in November 1973, when the government adopted a so-called immigration stop. At the same moment, however, the Philippine government was in the process of creating a labor export program. Despite the immigration stop, Denmark was, by the end of the 1970s, on the list of countries served by the new Overseas Employment Development Board, which was already deploying Philippine workers to more than one hundred countries.

During the second half of the twentieth century, labor markets and forms of migrations were reconfigured through global entanglements as well as local events. Labor Pioneers traces the lives of Filipina workers in Denmark from the 1960s until today, and situates their trajectories within a history of labor trading policies crafted in the twentieth century by local officials, authoritarian rulers, trade unions, and international organizations.

"Could not be more timely."

Vicente Rafael, professor of Southeast Asian History, University of Washington, Seattle

Available for sale online and in the following bookstores


  • Ateneo de Manila University Press bookstore at the campus on Katipunan Avenue, Quezon City
  • Fully Booked and National Bookstore chains

The Americas

  • University of Hawaii Press



  • Oslo: Litteraturhuset
  • Stavanger: Studentens Beste
  • Bergen: Litteraturhuset



  • Academic books City Campus, Øster Farigmagsgade 5A
  • Academic books Søndre Campus, Karen Blixens Plads 8
  • Arbejdermuseets butik, Rømersgade 22
  • Sari-Sari Mart, Nordre Fasanvej 12
  • Tranquebar Rejseboghandel, Borgergade 14
  • Solidaritetsbutikken, Griffenfeldsgade 41
  • Galleri Meter, Henrik Rungs Gade 25
  • Aage og Agnes Bøger, Borgbjergsvej 37
  • Bogcafeen Barrikaden, Dortheavej 61
  • Det lilla rum, Skotterupgade 16
  • Verdens mindste boghandel, Skindergade 15
  • Can also be ordered through all conventional bookstores


"Histories of migrants are often neglected and marginalized in their so-called receiving countries. This book contributes magnificently in documenting a very important history of Filipina labor migrants, as well as the transnational systems built around them to accommodate the Western labor market demand and advance a national interest in exporting labor."

—Helle Stenum, migration scholar and filmmaker

Excerpt from speech during Copenhagen book launch (translated from Danish by author)

“(…) A special thanks to you for involving us 49’ers in the writing process from your perspective. For me, it is not just a book you write – you were able to write all the things and all the anecdotes that were part of shaping our lives – and you tie all these stories together and create a coherent history that makes it possible for other people to know how it was for us to arrive in Denmark in the 70’s and to understand the difficult choices we had to make on our journey during the first years in Denmark. Furthermore, I will always be grateful that you gave me the possibility to share my own history. It would never have been possible for me to narrate my history with so much nuance and in context as you did. (…) in this way you made it possible for me to give my loved ones a deeper understanding of my background and my motives in this life. I hope that my grandchildren in some years can read your books and that I can explain them about the choices we made. It has been very interesting to follow your research and your curiosity to know our culture, our background and families. May you always keep your curiosity, drive and ability to meet all people with respect, care and kindness. (…)”

—Christina Santos Madsen, who came to Denmark in 1973, recruited for chambermaid work
at Hotel Scandinavia as part of the group calling themselves The 49’ers.

"As a “Philippine history of Denmark,” Labor Pioneers is a fascinating and multilayered narrative of Filipinas migrating to an unlikely destination in Europe starting in the 1960s, with the story following the rise and fall of the Marcos regime and the succeeding decades. Driven by oral histories, the book’s richly textured accounts feature a host of transnational actors ranging from Philippine and Danish policy makers, Gunnar Myrdal and the ILO, Danish hotels and labor unions, and the intrepid women who worked as chambermaids in Copenhagen. With much empathy, Andersen shows how migrants, amid structures and changing circumstances, created “new societies,” lived their faith, reworked ties to the homeland, and raised families—a second generation coming into its own and having to negotiate Filipino identity."

—Filomeno V. Aguilar, Jr., Editor, Philippine Studies: Historical and Ethnographic Viewpoints

"Resultaterne af Nina Triges forskning og interviews er vigtige at lære at kende for venstrefløjsaktivister, hvad enten de er engagerede i fagbevægelsen, i antiracistisk arbejde eller i et politisk parti med internationalt fokus. “Labor Pioneers” er derfor ikke blot arbejderhistorie, men i høj grad også et oplysningsprojekt, der griber ind i nutiden og kan være med til at give venstrefløjens beslutningstagere et mere oplyst grundlag at arbejde på."

—Vibeke Nielsen, bibliotekar
og anmelder på

"Nina Trige Andersen’s Labor Pioneers is a highly original and provocative history of the entanglement of the Philippines and Denmark through the lens of Filipino women’s labor and marriage migration. Her study presents a fascinating look into the dynamic economic, political, and legal regimes that facilitate transnational migration in the second half of the twentieth century. It also features the many different actors, most notably the women migrants themselves, who shape Danish and Philippine societies through their individual and collective actions and agendas."

—Catherine Ceniza Choy, University of California, Berkeley, author of Empire of Care: Nursing and Migration in Filipino American History

"Although much has been written about labor migration from the Philippines, Nina Trige Andersen’s book, Labor Pioneers, offers fresh insights on the Philippines-Denmark migration corridor and beyond. Andersen wove existing literature, oral histories, and archives of the pioneering 49ers who became the nucleus of the Filipino community in Denmark, interviewed key informants, and immersed herself in Philippine realities in the making of this book. The result is an insightful analysis that depicts, quoting Andersen in her conclusion, “workers and policymakers attempting to craft new societies—often under conditions and within contexts that they only marginally influence—and it provides a vantage point for studying economy, labor, and migration as it transformed from the mid-twentieth century into the next.”"

—Maruja M.B. Asis, Scalabrini Migration Center

"Med fokus på såvel store politiske, økonomiske og samfundsmæssige udviklingstræk, som på enkelte aktører, er 'Labor Pioneers' altså en bog, der er særdeles ambitiøs i sit emne og metodiske greb. Der er med andre ord tale om en bog, der er mættet med informationer og menneskeskæbner [...] Det er en bog skrevet med empati og indlevelsesevne om immigrationens omkalfatringer; om de gæster, der ikke tog hjem og det liv, der leves, når det midlertidige bliver permanent."

—Leonora Lottrup Rasmussen, phd. i historie og anmelder for tidsskriftet Arbejderhistorie