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The cosmopolis and the migrant domestic worker

The cosmopolis and the migrant domestic worker The cosmopolitan city has been hailed a necessary response to the empirical reality of globalizing multicultural cities. We follow Shah in arguing that the ‘assumed equivalence between cosmopolitanism and global’ needs more careful attention, and suggest three ways in which the assumption may be unpicked. First, discourses on the cosmopolis tend to focus on a masculinized version of cosmopolitanism, usually equated with creativity and public civility as accompanying conditions for developing productive relations in business and enterprise. More needs to be said about whether cosmopolitan ideals and realities feature in feminized privatized spheres, including those of ‘carework’ and ‘domestic work’. Second, attention needs to be given to understanding how cosmopolitanism at work in the global city shapes political membership. This requires attention to be given not just to settled individuals but also to the mobile-but-not-free populations, such as transnational domestic workers, a category in between Bauman’s ‘tourist’ and ‘vagabond’. Third, the inner workings of cosmopolitanism deserve greater attention, and this requires focusing on the everyday and personal expressions and negotiations of cosmopolitan ideals among different groups of people. These observations prompt us to give attention to identifying provisional changes in the subjectivities of Filipino domestic workers as potential working-class cosmopolitans upon migration to Singapore. By exploring changes in consumption patterns, possibilities for cultural learning, the development of new sensibilities and the negotiation of cultural differences, we argue for the value of including migrant domestic workers in discourses on cosmopolitanism and the emancipatory hope of recovering an openness to, and respect for, humanity despite the retrogressive contours of transnational domestic work. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Cultural Geographies SAGE

The cosmopolis and the migrant domestic worker

Cultural Geographies , Volume 21 (2): 17 – Apr 1, 2014

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References (73)

Publisher
SAGE
Copyright
© The Author(s) 2014
ISSN
1474-4740
eISSN
1477-0881
DOI
10.1177/1474474014520899
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

The cosmopolitan city has been hailed a necessary response to the empirical reality of globalizing multicultural cities. We follow Shah in arguing that the ‘assumed equivalence between cosmopolitanism and global’ needs more careful attention, and suggest three ways in which the assumption may be unpicked. First, discourses on the cosmopolis tend to focus on a masculinized version of cosmopolitanism, usually equated with creativity and public civility as accompanying conditions for developing productive relations in business and enterprise. More needs to be said about whether cosmopolitan ideals and realities feature in feminized privatized spheres, including those of ‘carework’ and ‘domestic work’. Second, attention needs to be given to understanding how cosmopolitanism at work in the global city shapes political membership. This requires attention to be given not just to settled individuals but also to the mobile-but-not-free populations, such as transnational domestic workers, a category in between Bauman’s ‘tourist’ and ‘vagabond’. Third, the inner workings of cosmopolitanism deserve greater attention, and this requires focusing on the everyday and personal expressions and negotiations of cosmopolitan ideals among different groups of people. These observations prompt us to give attention to identifying provisional changes in the subjectivities of Filipino domestic workers as potential working-class cosmopolitans upon migration to Singapore. By exploring changes in consumption patterns, possibilities for cultural learning, the development of new sensibilities and the negotiation of cultural differences, we argue for the value of including migrant domestic workers in discourses on cosmopolitanism and the emancipatory hope of recovering an openness to, and respect for, humanity despite the retrogressive contours of transnational domestic work.

Journal

Cultural GeographiesSAGE

Published: Apr 1, 2014

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