Coming (to) Clean

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They might live in your home, but they’re not part of the family.

They know more about you than any of your acquaintances, but you wouldn’t call them friends.

They care for your most treasured possessions, or they care for your greatest treasure of all – your children – but they’re not accorded the admiration of a person who owns fine things, or the respect of a parent.

Resting, 1938 / Amrita Shergil

Such is the strange existence of live-in domestics, men and women hired to clean or buttle or nanny.

The place that produces leisure, privacy and home for one produces capitalist exploitation, feudal servitude and symbolic alienation for the other. It also bridges the equally old questions of whether to look at class through production or consumption. The employer of the maid both extracts the different physical and emotional values produced by the worker, and consumes the leisure of abstaining from reproductive work.

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1. Clip Joint / The Guardian
2. Women & Maids, Otso Harju (2017), Centre for East and South-East Asian Studies, Lund University, Sweden.

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