Domestic Subversions: Domesticity and Affective Labor in Cross-Cultural Colonial Histories
These histories raise questions about the connections between colonial control and governance, and domesticity, and between citizenship and domesticity; they also raise questions about the role of the domestic in the construction of the colonial economy and the significance of reproductive and affective labor relations.
The paradoxical nature of Indigenous cross-cultural relationships within the settler colonial domestic sphere bears many similarities with relationships in other domestic service arrangements, including those between working-class servants and middle-class mistresses in nineteenth century England and Europe, between Black American domestic workers and white employers in the US South, and between colonizer masters and mistresses and their servants (both Indigenous and imported) in the context of extractive colonialism, such as in India. The key difference seems to be the determination of the modernizing state to manipulate the site of domestic labor to monitor such relations and to attempt to generate perfected relations of domesticity. The state’s willingness to do so betrays an anxiety around cross-cultural domestic labor relationships as being potentially destabilizing and subversive to the success of the modern settler colonial state.
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