Intimate Labour as Cross-Border Survival: Narratives of Arrival Among Hatian Migrant Domestic Workers in the Dominican Republic

Authors: Masaya Llavaneras Blanco*, Wilfrid Laurier University - Balsillie School of International Affairs
Topics: Migration, Political Geography
Keywords: Gender, Social Reproduction, Migration, Intimate
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 10:00 AM / 11:40 AM
Room: Napoleon A3, Sheraton, 3rd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Together with sex work and petit trade, paid domestic work is one of the three main sources of income for Haitian migrant women in the Dominican Republic (Petrozzielo and Wooding, 2013). I argue that direct and indirect care work as well as other forms of intimate labour (Boris and Parreñas, 2010), paid and unpaid, are at the heart of Haitian migrant women’s migration experience as a strategy for survival. My argument draws on qualitative data collected through interviews and focus groups held in Haitian and Dominican border towns, bateyes (sugar plantation communities) in south-west DR, and Santo Domingo, with Haitian women who work as domestic workers in the DR. Their testimonies frequently refer to the provision of unpaid socially reproductive labour to distant relatives that host them when newly-arrived (often as children or youth) as well as the provision of similar work for adult men who they meet upon arrival and who provide shelter and precarious social protection in exchange for unpaid care and other forms of intimate labour, including sex. Here, the boundaries between paid and unpaid reproductive labour, transactional sex, and other forms of intimate labour are often blurred in the quest for survival that permeates their border-crossing and migration experiences.

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