The tempo of care in the paper swan folding ritual
(Hadassa academic college Jerusalem)
Paper short abstract:
In Israel, folding paper swans is performed by migrant workers from the Philippines employed as live-in caregivers. Folding swans is an imaginative tool using the most immediate and accessible materials - paper and glue- for ordering the daily lived experienced as caregivers.
Paper long abstract:
In Israel, folding paper swans is performed by migrant workers from the Philippines employed as live-in caregivers for the country's aged patients. This paper examines the practice of folding paper swans as a care ritual. Folding and caring are daily, nonverbal practices that appear to be the basic blocks of the carer and the cared-for intersubjective and sharable world. In this way, folding swans is an imaginative tool using the most immediate and accessible materials - paper and glue- for ordering the daily lived experienced as caregivers. It combines two contrasting modes of life, of elderly, dying Israeli patients and the young healthy caregivers from the Philippines, allowing them adjustment in terms of rhythm to the changing circumstances resulting from living on the horizon of death. I argue that swan folding creates a microsystem model of adjustment through small-scale and repetitive tempo. This microsystem synchronizes a tripartite process: the swan is in the process of construction, the patient is in the process of decay, and the Filipina is in the process of self-creation. In the short term, the microsystem is sustained, but in the long term, it contains the seeds of its own self-destruction, as the patient dies, the caregiver is reassigned to another patient or deported, and the swans are gifted. Folding paper swans becomes a micro-system that models the lived-in world and retains its connectivity to the world from which its elements derive, from eldercare. This connectivity emerges through the temporality and tempo of folding and caring practices.
Time and tradition: theorising the temporalities in and of cultural production