From the collections of the National Library of Australia. Courtesy of the National Archives of Singapore. Gilruth Collection, Northern Territory Library. The editors would like to acknowledge and thank all those wonderful scholars who took part then, as participants, chairs, or actively engaged audience members. We would especially like to thank our three keynote presenters, Mary Romero, Barry Higman, and Swapna Banerjee, whose inspirational words set the tone for both the event and the book to come. The active and collegial engagement of all of those who attended, many of whom had travelled great distances to attend at per- sonal expense, and who had made their drafts available for pre-circulation, made the symposium the outstanding success it was.
We would also like to especially acknowledge and thank our colleague and co-convenor Pam Nilan for her involvement in the symposium, and in the development of this edited collection. We also acknowledge the anonymous read- ers for Routledge, for their thoughtful and constructive suggestions in our shaping of this collection. Our editor Max Novick at Routledge has been always available to offer friendly and helpful advice and assistance through the process. We are also very grateful indeed to Janet Henshall Momsen and Janice Monk for their interest in our collection, and their generous offer to publish it as part of their own Routledge series.
And we would like to thank Emma L. Finally, we wish to acknowledge and pay our deepest respects to domes- tic workers past and present, whose labors have been so often overlooked, yet so powerfully shape the world we all live in. Haskins and Claire Lowrie What is the relationship between domestic service and colonization, his- torically and into the present? How does domestic service connect and intersect with the experiences of dispossession, displacement and expro- priation, and the social and cultural upheavals that such processes gener- ate?
It is an undertaking that seems timely now. The triumvirate of race, class and gender cat- egories of analysis has fundamentally reoriented perspectives within mul- tiple disciplines in the last three or four decades. Haskins and Claire Lowrie more useful for articulating the focus of our attention. Teasing out this relationship is more than just an academic exercise, however. In this sense, decolonizing scholarship and activism goes beyond just reacting to and opposing colonial power, to generate positive and constructive new directions that are based upon local, if often inter- connected, sources of culture and identity Sium et al.
To embark on any kind of decolonizing approach to domestic service, we must understand how domestic service and colonization are entwined. From an assortment of historical and contemporary studies, it is possible to distil an historical outline of domestic work in colonization, and likewise to trace something of a genealogy of scholarly insights into the subject. The fol- lowing sections provide an overview of this history and scholarship, before elaborating on the essays in this collection and the insights they have to offer to a project of decolonizing domestic service.
In the modern period, one of the earliest historical references to colonial domestic labor is found in the anecdotes of a seventeenth-century traveler in the Caribbean, Richard Ligon. In addition to enslaved local men, women and chil- dren, domestic workers were kidnapped and traded or otherwise recruited from other colonial territories to work as servants, alongside sometimes working-class Europeans brought out from the metropole. A retinue of household servants, often of multiple racial and cultural backgrounds and typically predominantly male, came to be not merely a status sym- bol for colonial Europeans, but metonymic for the entire imperial proj- ect.
Settler colonies, which often deployed genocidal practices to clear the land of Indigenous peoples, likewise developed welfare and child rescue schemes that trained destitute settler girls as well as captive Indigenous and mixed-race girls and young women for service, while drawing upon their founding metro- pole for further importations of potential domestic workers recruited from the poor and indigent Stoler ; Haskins Haskins and Claire Lowrie From the end of the Second World War and accelerating into the s, the era of decolonization saw marked changes in the patterns of domestic service, even as the occupation itself persisted.
In the many former colonies, new national elites and an emergent middle-class wanting assistance in the home began employing domestic workers who shared the same ethnicity as themselves see for example Johnson in this volume ; or, increasingly, mobi- lized pre-existing and new international networks to bring in workers from other countries, typically also former colonies, as guest or migrant workers, who did not hold the same rights as other residents on guest or migrant workers in this volume see Bizri; Cox; Foote; Glaser; Macdonald; Platt. Formerly colonized countries including Indonesia, Sri Lanka and the Philippines have today become major sending-countries of migrant workers bound for employment in other nations, many of which are former colonies or colonial dependencies themselves for examples in this volume see Bizri; Platt.
This dramatic and unpredicted revival of domestic service and its attendant problems has become some- thing of a conundrum to historians and scholars of contemporary domestic work alike. Although Salmon had mentioned the existence of Native American domestic servants in the early colonial period, albeit incidentally 49—51 , the European and American scholarship that eventually followed in the second half of the twentieth century tended not to refer to colonized domestic workers at all, let alone to consider the broader context of coloni- zation as any other than a side-aspect of domestic service histories Davidoff ; Horn ; McBride and ; Branca ; Katzman ; Dudden ; Fairchilds An early and rather idiosyncratic exception to the tendency to ignore the colonized domestic worker was the essay by J.
Ironically, Hecht did not take into account the postwar decolonizing movements of his time that might have given another aspect to what he was observing around him as he wrote. Issues of class and class relations had been embedded in the key historical works, especially those by Fairchilds and Dav- idoff , the latter relating the historic exclusion of servants, as depen- dents, from full citizenship to the exclusion of women, thus powerfully drawing gender into the analysis.
The occasional deployment of the internal colonialism model to explain the position of women domestic workers of color in the United States has never really gained traction for instance, see Glenn 88—91; Chang —, —10; see also Stoler —45 for discussion of the attempts to deploy this model in the US more generally. However, early regional studies of domestic service in colonial contexts suggested that integrating colonization into the analysis could complicate existing theo- ries of domestic service.
Elsa M. In the latter period black Zambians made up the largest single group of employers, but colonialist social practices that reproduced structures of inequality had persisted , To socialize Africans for subordinate roles in white households in the new political and economic order, colonial employers instituted a hierarchical labor process that accentuated the difference between themselves and their workers. Historian Elsbeth Locher-Scholten , looking at colonial domestic service relationships in the Dutch East Indies present-day Indonesia , argued that the experience of nearness and dependence had in fact stimulated the colonialist ideology and practice of distance , and that the complex, contradictory way that native domestic servants were both included and excluded from the family relation is what made domestic service such a compelling trope for colonial relations more generally Historical anthropologist Ann Laura Stoler further elaborated upon the inescapable tensions inherent in the colonial home, particularly in an essay she wrote with Karen Strassler on memory and Javanese domestic workers in the Dutch East Indies Stoler and Strassler The impact of such ethnographic and cultural approaches and meth- ods has also gone some way to shifting the weighty Eurocentric bias in the scholarship.
This awareness that domestic service has alternative and local histories informed the work of Swapna Banerjee on colonial Bengal. At the same time she noted how the emergence of a Bengali middle-class in the colonial period was dependent on servant labor. Attention to the formation and construc- tion of class and other identities in present-day domestic service was central to Kathleen M.
Despite the historical use of Indigenous labor in domestic service there is relatively little scholarship on the subject, past or present. This oversight seems to derive from the belief that Indigenous peoples, being originally hunter-gathers and subsistence agriculturalists or pastoralists with no tradi- tions of domestic service at all, were not only averse to such work but were able to refuse it for instance, see Roy However, studies in Australia where Indigenous peoples have a long history of working in the households of their colonizers, often under duress, highlight the importance of this arena for shaping settler colonial relations and histories.
In Australia, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples only ever rep- resented a tiny minority in the ranks of domestic workers and as a result, attention in more generalist studies has been directed instead to white and immigrant workers Baxter ; Higman , ; Hamilton ; Kingston In some parts of northern Australia, as in Papua New Guinea, a colonial pat- tern of male Indigenous domestic employment also emerged Martinez and Lowrie ; Dickson-Waiko Some writers attend directly to the colonial and postcolonial entanglements of this experience Constable ; Chin ; Fish ; Ally ; Lan , but there has been no comprehensive, focused analysis of how colonization, in par- ticular, has shaped and continues to shape the revival we see today.
There is, however, an emerging and buoyant scholarly interest in integrating post- colonial theoretical paradigms in the analysis of present-day transnational encounters in domestic work for example, see Marchetti ; Klocker ; Chia It is in response to such multi-faceted and wide-ranging interest that this collection emerges.
Selected papers were to be pre-circulated in draft form and workshopped in a research symposium to be held in New- castle, on the east coast of Australia, in July There were some surprising gaps, it must be said. In our selection of papers, we were guided by our aim of generating pro- ductive interdisciplinary conversations within the workshop.
After an exten- sive process of peer-review and revisions—especially necessary because the interdisciplinary intent of the project meant that all essays required assess- ment from experts both within and outside their own discipline—many of the papers originally presented at the symposium appear here in revised form. In addition, several new papers were commissioned in place of papers that were withdrawn. But several distinct though entwined broad themes emerged: the intimacies and anxieties that surround domestic service in colonizing contexts; the structures of domination and strategies of resistance which emerge in such contexts; and the legacies and contemporary reiterations of colonization in domestic service.
These themes form the three sections of this collection: Part I. Anxieties and Intimacies; Part II. Legacies and Dreams. In Part I, six essays highlight the complexities and emotional intensity of the intimacies and anxieties that underpin domestic service in colonial and postcolonial contexts. In the third thematic part, the chapters revolve around the complex overlaying of past and present forms or imagined forms of colonial domestic service relationships. We based our grouping of them on how they best intersect and engage with each other, to enrich our understanding of the complexities of the relationship between colonization and domestic service.
An explanation of each of the three themes and how the chapters relate to them is provided by an introductory discussion at the beginning of each section. Our decision to organize the collection along thematic lines is intended to highlight the commonalities in the domestic service encounter in dif- ferent historical periods, sociopolitical contexts and geographic regions. We might have just as easily organized the chapters according to the type of colonial system under discussion, the time period, or by geography.
In terms of the types of colonial systems that are represented in the vol- ume, a number of chapters deal with white settler colonial nations, includ- ing South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States as mentioned above. Others deal with what B. Haskins and Claire Lowrie this collection, in addition to the two chapters addressing domestic service within Britain itself Dussart; Cox.
A wide variety of domestic workers and domestic service contexts, his- torical and contemporary, are covered in this volume. Such myriad domestic service contexts and experiences highlight the complexities of the relationship between colonization and domestic ser- vice, historically and into the present. Higman and the closing chapter by Jennifer N. Fish are global in their purview. Higman, an economic historian, grapples with the question of whether historical coloni- zation has explanatory power in accounting for the patterns and extent of domestic labor as an occupation today in over a hundred different nations of the world.
Yet sweep- ing generalizations are unsafe and within the larger picture there are many complicating factors and distinctions. For instance, within that group of states with vested colonial pasts, settler colonial nations have notably fewer domestic workers today compared to others, especially compared with for- mer plantation colonies, where historically, forced labor was drawn upon to exploit the resources of the colonized country.
Sociologist Jennifer N. As Fish shows, the activ- ists drew upon the transnational connections created within a new global economy of domestic work to organize and act collectively. What we do assert, however, is the importance of a new agenda for re-conceptualizing both colonization and domestic service, as each critically and crucially informs and shapes the other. NOTES 1. For the debate about how Indigenous agendas align with anti-racist and anti- neo colonial agendas in a global economy, see Lawrence and Dua ; Sharma and Wright — Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
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Such predictions were most common around , when decolonization was at its height Coser — Like many bold predictions, the demise of domestic service was exaggerated. The outcome was a new map of global patterns of domestic service, overlaying the new map of global political geography. However new these two maps might appear, both contain elements from the past, marking the persistence of political boundaries and of social barri- ers. In particular, it can be asked how far contemporary patterns of domestic service incorporate continuities from colonization that derive from deeply rooted hierarchies of wealth and inequality, and how far these patterns depend on recent social and economic change unrelated to the processes of formal colonization that dominated earlier periods.
Existing theories of servant growth make little mention of the process of colonization but focus instead on macroeconomic engines of change, notably inequality, techno- logical change, urbanization, modernization and stages of economic devel- opment Boserup —; Branca ; McBride ; Katzman vii; Cowan The question can be asked both of the contemporary world and of periods in the past.
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It is worth observing that colonies and domestic servants share some fundamental characteristics. Most obviously, they both come into being through dependence on an existing agent, whether state or household. Without denying agency to colonists or servants, it is the continuing author- ity of a metropole or master that commands settlement in colonization or the employment relation in domestic service.
Higman whether found in colonies or elsewhere. Everywhere, servants were part of a larger hierarchy of authority and status that brought together public and domestic spheres. Constructing a comprehensive picture of colonization and domestic service in the great sweep of world history is beyond the capacity of this chapter. Systematic data do however exist for a substantial slice of the contemporary world and analysis of these data enables a testing of associations between colo- nization and domestic service in two major ways.
This relationship can be understood either as a continuity bequeathed by the colonial domestic service sector or as an independent prod- uct of the structural heritage of colonialism. The approach taken in this chapter is more representative of older studies of domestic service—particularly those undertaken from the s to the s—which followed the path of economic history and depended heavily on quantitative evidence Stigler These methods are the central pil- lars of my own earlier studies of the history of domestic service, in Jamaica Higman and Australia Higman Today, very few places are described as colonies, whatever their constitu- tional status Aldrich and Connell 2—9.
A more nuanced typology is acknowledged by Bouda Etemad.