Identity Projects at Home and Labor from Abroad: The Market for Foreign Domestic Workers in Southern California and Santiago, Chile (Working Paper #75)

Kristen Hill Maher, San Diego State University and Center for Comparative Immigration Studies

Abstract: What kinds of perceptions, attitudes and cultural logics underlie the growing markets for foreign domestic workers in industrializing and post-industrial states? Drawing from field research in both Southern California and in Santiago, Chile, this presentation examines the growing popularity of migrant women as household workers in these two regions. Despite their vast differences in the histories of migration and domestic service, their markets for foreign domestic workers share a number of critical similarities. Maher focuses particularly on common narratives about “the Mexican maid” and “la nana Peruana” among employers and job placement agencies and argues that there are a series of identity projects or ideological agendas that are served when women from less developed states provide domestic labor.

Working Paper #75»