An insight into the struggles of paid domestic workers in Latin America through an exploration of films, texts, and digital media produced since the 1980s in collaboration with them or inspired by their experiences.
Paid domestic work in Latin America is often undervalued, underpaid, and underregulated. Exploring a wave of Latin American cultural texts since the 1980s that draw on the personal experiences of paid domestic work or intimate ties to domestic employees, Paid to Care offers insights into the struggles domestic workers face through an analysis of literary testimonials, documentary and fiction films, and works of digital media.
From domestic workers’ experiences of unionization in the 1980s to calls for their rights to be respected today, the cultural texts analyzed in Paid to Care provide additional insight into public debates about paid domestic work. Rachel Randall examines work made in Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Peru, and Uruguay. The most recent of these texts respond to the Covid-19 pandemic, which put many domestic workers’ health and livelihoods at risk. Engaging with the legal histories of domestic work in multiple distinct national contexts, Randall demonstrates how the legacy of colonialism and slavery shapes the profession even today. Focusing on personal or coproduced cultural representations of domestic workers, Paid to Care explores complex ethical issues relating to consent, mediation, and appropriation.
Rachel Randall is a senior lecturer in Latin American cultural studies at the University of Bristol. She is the author of Children on the Threshold in Contemporary Latin American Cinema and a coeditor of New Visions of Adolescence in Contemporary Latin American Cinema.
A compelling analysis of representations of domestic workers in contemporary Latin America. Randall shows how different types of sources—literary testimonios, documentary and fictional films, and digital media artifacts, produced by, about, and with domestic workers—all reveal the painful coexistence of intimacy and affection with exploitation and domination. The book is an important reminder that racism, sexism, classism, and the overall legacy of slavery and colonialism can only be challenged if cultural representations are meticulously scrutinized and consciously denaturalized.
~Patricia Pinho, University of California at Santa Cruz
Paid to Care is a tour de force of intellectual articulation between cultural representations of domestic workers and class structure. Throughout a rich corpus of cultural texts, the book identifies the tensions and power dynamics between workers and employers and pays particular attention to the workers’ voices. The introduction of ’testimonios’ presents readers with the problems of consent, mediation, and appropriation of their voices and experiences in the production of cultural texts. In this sense, Paid to Care conveys the relevance of approaching the representations of domestic workers by reworking the relationship between theory and agency.
~Karina Vázquez, University of Richmond, author of Aprendices, fabriqueras y obreros: El trabajo industrial en la narrativa argentina del siglo XX (1930–2007)
Chapter 1. Paid Domestic Workers’ Testimonios in Latin America
Chapter 2. Labors of Love? Live-in Domestic Workers in Latin American Fiction Film
Chapter 3. Immaterial Labors: Spectral Domestic Workers in Brazilian and Argentine Documentary
Chapter 4. Domestic Workers in the Digital Domain
Appendix 1. Latin American Testimonios Exploring (Paid) Domestic Work and Published in the Late Twentieth and Early Twenty-First Centuries
Appendix 2. Filmography: Latin American Fiction Films Released since 2000 That Feature Paid Domestic Workers in Key Roles
Appendix 3. Filmography: Contemporary Latin American Documentaries That Focus on Paid Domestic or Care Workers
Appendix 4. Filmography: Other Films or Television Shows
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