Work in Progress Session: Maria Antonia Carbonero Garmundí

We hope you will be able to join us for our first ICMEC work in progress session this semester. These sessions will be coordinated by Cristina Dragomir (PhD Politics) who has generously offered to help with ICMEC activities this semester. Please get in touch with her if you would like to present your work or have any other questions or suggestions (

Our first speaker is Maria Antonia Carbonero Garmundí, a visiting scholar in the Politics department (NSSR). She holds a PhD in Geography by the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona and in Political and Social Science by the Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia. She is a professor of Sociology at the Universitat de les Illes Balears (Balearic Islands University). Her research is mainly in gender inequalities, social exclusion and social policy. She is working on Nancy Fraser’s theoretical framework and its application to specific issues such as the gender, care and citizenship in the public policy and more recently recognition, and domesticity in the care work in Spain. She is currently working on sex work and “new” intimacies.

Her presentation will focus on some of this new research (see the abstract below).

Location: 6 E 16th St, room 716
Date: March 1, 2013
Time: 4-6pm

Title: Domesticity and Colonial Reason: Latin American Women Caregivers in Spain

María Antonia Carbonero Gamundí
Profesora Titular de Sociología
Universitat Illes Balears

A global demand for care services such as caring for children the elderly and the sick has generated a large flow a transnational immigration to wealthy countries. These migrant workers substitute middle class women in domestic care work at home and this reflects a new international division of reproductive work (Mattingly, 2001:372). Paradoxically, this new division enhanced gender inequality because it has allowed the massive entry of middle class women to paid work without the men needing to substantially increase their responsibility for the housework.

In Mediterranean countries (such as Spain) in most cases it is the family who provides care for the children, the elderly and the sick at home. This new immigration flow has caused the substitution of the old model where “the women of the family serve as caregivers” by a new model of “the immigrant woman as the caregiver in the family.” Latin American immigrant women employed in Spain were estimated in 2011 at 578 thousand, of which 95% were employed in the service sector. The majority of them are engaged in domestic work and approximately 65% are working in the informal economy, without labor rights. Ecuador, Bolivia and the Dominican Republic are the main countries where these women are from.

The care work has become the “new gold”. It is no coincidence that in the last decade has grown different aspects of the study of care work in relation to transnational women migration. In particular what is highlighted is the view of care as a “job of love” (Hochschild 2004). However, as France Fanon says (1967) “Love” is an expression of the symbolic violence of colonialism. The idea of care as a “job of love” can be understood as a process of exotisation of immigrant women (Suarez Navas y Hernández, 2008).  “Love” can only make sense for feminist strategies if deconstruct the concept of “care”. That is, is discussed in its own constraints and transgressions.

In this paper I analyze how operate simultaneously colonial reason and domesticity in the discourse of immigrant women caregivers in the specific context of Spain today.

The work is based on semi-structured interviews conducted in Mallorca (Balearic Islands) with Latin American women who are working or have worked caring for children or the elderly.

I analyze the binomial colonialism/domestication through the Fraser’s theory, which allow me to ask what is its significance in terms of misrecognition and maldistribution. The discourse of the women interviewed reveal a complex world in which emotional ties reinforce their misrecognition as care workers, while they increase their self-esteem at home and in cultural circles, when they recognize themselves as “bearers of a culture of love “.


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