Thesis

Corpo(r)ealities: domestic workers and embodied inscriptions of power

Domestic workers have long received attention from academia--research has been written about them through global, sociological, or historical perspectives. However, the innovative character of this study is that it focuses on the experiences of domestic workers through the perspective of the body. This feminist ethnography based on in-depth interviews with three immigrant women who have been domestic workers for more than twenty years, will examine the impact that paid domestic work has had on their bodies. It offers narratives about how they perceive their bodies as a result of performing menial labor for many years, and how they feel it has transformed through inscriptions of pain, emotion, intimidation, and most importantly, power. They all portray images of bodies that have been overworked beyond capacity, bodies through which rigid movements, strict environments, and injuries have all been absorbed. Nonetheless, the women did proclaim a sense of empowerment through their spirituality, which contributed to their sense of self-healing.

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