Click the star to add/remove an item to/from your individual schedule.
You need to be logged in to avail of this functionality, and to see the links to virtual rooms.

Accepted Paper:

"Nothing. Not even appreciation": Gender, Race, and Precarious Work in the Experiences of Community Healthcare Workers in a South African township during the COVID-19 Pandemic  
Phillip Willians Leite (Universität Leipzig)

Paper short abstract:

This paper discusses precarious work in a (post-)segregationist, neoliberal city through the experiences of black women employed as mobile Community Healthcare Workers (CHWs) in Khayelitsha, the biggest township in Cape Town, South Africa, during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Paper long abstract:

This paper discusses the concept of precarious work in a (post-)segregationist, neoliberal city through the experiences of Community Healthcare Workers (CHWs) in Khayelitsha, the biggest township in Cape Town, South Africa, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Playing a pivotal role in South Africa’s primary healthcare approach by mediating national health policies with the knowledge of local realities, CHWs were part of the country’s strategy to contain the pandemic and were widely deployed, delivering medicines to chronically ill patients, educating citizens on how to prevent an infection with SARS-CoV-2, and aiding health personnel in public clinics. CHWs, most of whom are black women living in townships – poor, apartheid-era areas designated to non-Whites – usually receive low wages and do not enjoy the rights and benefits afforded to other healthcare workers. The COVID-19 pandemic only exacerbated their already precarious working situation. The mobility conferred to them during the strict lockdown regime in South Africa left them exposed to high-risk situations, from contracting SARS-CoV-2 to being victims of violence when walking the empty streets in Khayelitsha to reach their patients. Addressing the pandemic crisis through a spatial point of view in the context of a society still struggling with historical (gender, racial, land…) injustices, I employ feminist perspectives on work and show how one of South Africa’s key approaches to fighting the pandemic relied on the precarious working conditions of black women. The analysis is supported by ethnographic material from fieldwork conducted in Khayelitsha and interviews with CHWs between 2022 and 2023.

Panel P035
Feminist perspectives on mobile essential workers: the pandemic as turning point? [Medical Anthropology Europe (MAE) & Anthropology and Mobility (AnthroMob)]
  Session 1