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Author:Colette Le Petitcorps (Institute of Social Sciences - University of Lisbon)
Paper short abstract:
Do the past institutions created by the workers in the margins of the plantation constitute a particular background for resistance to wage labour in contemporary neoliberal policy? I examine this aspect with regards to the dissidence of domestic workers in Mauritius and its impacts on racialization.
Paper long abstract:
Do the past institutions created by the workers of the plantation household, in the margins of the plantation, constitute a particular background for resistance to wage and flexible labour in contemporary neoliberal policies? This question emerged during my fieldwork with women employed as domestic workers by the foreign and Mauritian elite who have a residence in the south-western coast of Mauritius. I argue that a sense of belonging to a class, sustained by a continuous socio-economic organisation for subsistence, is reviving among women massively employed in domestic service in the coast, despite state-manage ethnic division. This idea results from an approach of domestic service from the point of view of domestic workers, which pays attention to their issue with the social reproduction of their own household, and to its consequences on their moral disposition to serve their employers. I aim to unveil the undercurrent process of dissidence characterizing women practices in front of their domestic service employers, on the basis of a common ethic of subsistence rooted in the historical formation of the creole class of workers of the plantation. I argue that the analysis of the process of dissidence is fundamental to the understanding of the ways in which the racial and ethnic categories that naturalise social groups are actually shifting in the labour market. This research finally inscribes the current domestic service jobs that have been created by the economic policy of property development in Mauritius, within the long history of the plantation society and its class struggles.
Bringing race-making and class struggles in plantations and export industries back to the research agenda