In June 2013, the next GEXcel research will be starting, this time dealing with issues concerning postcolonial bodies, feminist disidentifications and decolonisations. In connection to the theme, the next international Somatechnics conference will be arranged, June 17 - 19, 2013.
January 07 | 0 comments
September 28 | 0 comments
Several new GEXcel Work in Progress reports have been published during 2012. They are all available for download from the GEXcel website:
October 26 | 0 comments
A comment to evalatuion of the three Swedish Centres of Gender Excellence
International Conference: Gender Paradoxes in Academic and Scientific Organisation(s) – Change, Excellence and Interventions
September 07 | 0 comments
20-21 October 2011 at Örebro University, Forum House, Bio.
September 15 | 0 comments
September 09 | 0 comments
June 17 | 0 comments
CALL FOR PAPERS AND PARTICIPATION
GEXcel Theme 11-12, Gender Paradoxes of Changing Academic and Scientific Organisation(s), invites scholars, at all career stages, to apply for a workshop conference in October 20-21, 2011 at Örebro University, Sweden.
Marchetti, Sabrina, Post Doc
By bjorn on 17 Jun | 0 comments
After graduating in Philosophy at Sapienza University of Rome in 2002, she undertook postgraduate courses in Gender and Ethnicity, at the University of Siena and later at Utrecht University. In 2006 she accomplished her Research Master thesis with a comparative research on Filipino migrant domestic workers and their employers in Rome and Amsterdam. The title of her RMA thesis was «We had different fortunes: Negotiations around care, difference and citizenship between Filipino migrant domestic workers and their employers in Rome and Amsterdam». Between 2006 and 2010, she carried out her PhD at the History and Culture Institute and the Gender Graduate Programme of Utrecht University with a project titled «Paid domestic labour and postcoloniality: Narratives of Eritrean and Afro-Surinamese migrant women».
Taking the case of Afro-Surinamese women arriving in the Netherlands before 1980, I demonstrate that the over-representation of postcolonial migrant women in the niche of care work is crucially affected by the past colonial relationship between the country of arrival and the one of departure. In so doing, I analyse the process of ‘ethnicisation of domestic skills’ which accompanies, in my view, the relegation of paid domestic labour to being a job for migrant working class women. Secondly, I argue that, on the basis of these women's narratives, the formation of a ‘gendered’ and ‘postcolonial’ form of cultural capital emerges as crucial in the way they understood classed/ethnic/gendered divisions of care labour as they shaped their migratory experience.
My research project takes start from the general observation that migrant women’s access to labour markets in Western Countries is often characterised by their concentration in home care and domestic work. This sector comes thus into sight as an ‘ethnic labour niche’ for many migrant women, ie. a sectors wherein some ethnic groups are over-represented (Model, 1993, p.164) and that, at the same time, has an incredible relevance to their socio-economic integration (Schrover et al., 2007). This fact is generally seen as consequence of the tendency to relegate migrant working class women to jobs which are considered too humble, too tiring, too dirty or too dangerous, and at the same time not remunerative enough, by the residents or by previous migrants (Anderson, 2000). The interaction between processes of ethnic and of gendered labour segregation, which are at play in most industrialised countries, is a major characteristic of this phenomenon.
I demonstrate, however, that if one wants to fully understand migrant women’s experience of home care work in Europe, it is also important to look at the historical legacies which shape the context wherein this experience takes place. I contend indeed that historical forces condition the entrance of migrant women in the niche of care work not only in structuring personal contacts and networks which facilitate their entrance into the sector, but also, and especially, in affecting the representation of those skills which are considered as necessary for access to the paid care work.
For the purpose of the present project, I take the case of Surinamese women migrant arriving in the Netherlands between the 1960s and the 1970s, years which correspond to the last stage of Dutch colonial presence in Suriname. Looking at their experiences, which I collected during my PhD project in 15 in-depth interviews, I demonstrate the need of using an historically grounded analytical framework, as the one of ‘postcoloniality’, in conjunction with the one of ‘globalisation of care’ which alone, I contend, is not always enough to account for the experience of migrant care workers.
My argument is articulated in two steps. First of all, I look at the process of ‘ethnicisation of domestic skills’ which I see taking place along the ‘relegation’ of paid domestic labour to being a job for migrant working class women. These migrant care workers, in my view, tend to represent their professional skills as pertaining to people with a specific ethnic background, rather than to others. In my view, this ‘ethnicisation of domestic skills’ is a ‘tactic’, in de Certeau’s use of the term (Certeau, 1984), for Surinamese women to resist economic and social segregation in the country of their former colonisers. Moreover, it also illustrates the connection between the formation of a labour niche and essentialist assumptions that confer on postcolonial women a gendered and ‘ethnicised’ specific social position.
Thus, I connect they way interviewees represent their ‘ethnic’ skills to the importance of what I call a gendered 'postcolonial cultural capital'. In so doing, I want to emphasise that the disposal of a gendered and postcolonial form of cultural capital is crucial in the process of a classed/ethnic/gendered niching for migrant women in the care sector. In my view, indeed, Surinamese interviewees can `use´ the colonial bond between their country of origin and the one of arrival as a narrative tool for the `trading´ of their cultural capital. I am here further arguing that, in this same process, they operate a self-identification with a specific ‘personality’, i.e. the ensemble of aptitudes and practices which relate to one´s background along the axes of gender, class, age and ethnicity (Skeggs, 1997). In conclusion, the case I am presenting demonstrates how the description of one´s working ‘personality’ is shaped by historical forces and by the legacy of representations, relations, stigmatisations, coming from the past.
In my research, gender, class, and ethnicity are seen as the result of a combination between discursive constructions and material conditions produced by the history of colonialism and modernity. This is the standpoint from which I interrogate the positioning of the subject in this social space and how possible trajectories of transformation are created.
In my work, Skeggs’ argument on a feminine cultural capital (Skeggs, 1997) is the starting point for the formulation of a specific form of cultural capital which is not only gendered, but also ‘postcolonial’. In this kind of cultural capital gender, class, and ‘race’/ethnicity are combined together in an historical perspective. In so doing, I refer to a second conceptual tool which is ‘postcoloniality’, i.e. the notion which, both at the descriptive and at the evaluative level, lies behind the narratives about work and migration that I analyse. It has to be noticed that ‘postcoloniality’, differently from ‘postcolonialism’, refers not (only) to intellectual practices and methodologies, but to a wider global system of values and symbols. Postcoloniality refers indeed to the formation, on a global scale, of a ‘cultural regime’ wherein the principles of late-capitalism and globalisation set the conditions of exchange and value of all kinds of commodities - including people’s work -, in connection with the legacies of colonialism (Graham, 2001, p.6).
My methodological approach stems out of the debate on Intersectionality, a notion which has been at the centre of a burgeoning production especially, but not only, between black women scholars in the Anglo-Saxon and Northern European worlds (see Wekker, 2003; Lutz, 2002; Davis, 2008; Yuval-Davis, 2006b; McCall, 2005). A crucial assumption in an intersectional approach to social research is that categories as gender, class, ‘race’/ethnicity and age are important social divisions which affect axes of power not only at the macro level, but also in people’s actual lives. Thus, they can be observed in the functioning of institutions (state law, organisations, family) but also in people's subjective experiences (Yuval-Davis, 2006b, p.198). In my study, in particular, I will undertake what Leslie McCall defines as an 'intra-categorical approach,' i.e. the study of «the intersections of some single dimensions of multiple categories in selected social positions» (McCall, 2005, p.1781).
Finally, this project is based on an analysis of narratives, a type of qualitative analysis which is increasingly common in the fields of anthropology, oral history and in the social sciences in general. From June 2007 to December 2008 I conducted several rounds of fieldwork in the city of Rotterdam and I succeeded in collecting a total of 15 in-depth interviews which form the basic material I analyse in my work. The interviews have been fully transcribed and the excerpts I am going to quote will be translated from Dutch into English.
The fundamental principles shaping the definition of my sample of interviewees have been the time of their migration, which I kept strictly up to and including 1980, and the fact that these women, at one point in their lives, had been working in the home care sector in the Netherlands. Another fundamental criterion was related to the fact that these women should have been primary migrants, people who migrated ‘alone’ as adolescents or adults, i.e. they should not have been children or teenagers travelling with their families. This criterion was important to me in order to focus on women who were possibly in the condition of starting to work for their self-sustainment.