House-Girls Remember: Domestic Workers in Vanuatu

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Hardback: $47.00 $5.00
ISBN-13: 9780824830120
Published: June 2007

Additional Information

176 pages | 19 illus.
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  • About the Book
  • Giving voice to the women who worked as maids—known as “house-girls” in the Pacific islands of Vanuatu—is the goal of this innovative work. The stories the women tell resonate with the experiences of domestic workers around the world; their histories contribute to theorizing intimacy and traveling culture; and their struggles with adverse working conditions help find solutions, which are outlined at the end of the book. In addition to contributions by the editors, workshop reports by eleven ni-Vanuatu women fieldworkers and ten others who spoke about their lives as house-girls are included. These reports detail ni-Vanuatu women’s experiences as domestic workers during the colonial period. One chapter presents an elderly French woman’s recollections of the Vietnamese orphan who grew up in her home and worked as a house-girl. Material from contemporary house-girls appears in a final chapter based on research conducted in Port Vila.

  • Contributors
    • Margaret Rodman Critchlow is professor of anthropology at York University, Toronto.
    • Daniela Kraemer received her MA in anthropology from York University and has taught at Pearson College, Victoria, British Columbia; in 2007, she was studying at the London School of Economics.
    • Lissant Bolton is curator for Oceania at the British Museum.
    • Jean Tarisesei is coordinator of the Women’s Culture Project, which she established with Lissant Bolton at the Vanuatu Cultural Centre in the early 1990s.
  • Reviews and Endorsements
    • Much more than a fascinating celebration and reflection on female domestic labour in colonial history, it is a call to action in the present. Given the accessibility of the work, and its aim of being available to local Vanuatu and Pacific readership, this book will do much to create awareness in a topic that is relevant not just to Vanuatu, but to colonial and neo-colonial settings the world over.
      —Pacific Affairs (82:1, Spring 2009)
    • The experience of domestic workers in Vanuatu and across the Pacific has been little explored to date, so this book is very welcome. . . . It is an exemplary product of the research collaboration vigorously promoted by the [Vanuatu Cultural Centre]. The voices of ni-Vanuatu women are amplified here by a lightness of editorial touch in transforming their words into text and in situating the volume in the broader comparative literature.
      —The Contemporary Pacific (21:2, 2009)