Affective Economies in Los Angeles’ South Asian Threading Beauty Salons: Between Sisterhood and Exploitation

Authors: Preeti Sharma*, UCLA
Topics: Gender, Ethnicity and Race, Urban Geography
Keywords: social reproduction, feminist theories of work, affective labor, low-wage work, immigrant service sector
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 4:40 PM / 6:20 PM
Room: Napoleon A2, Sheraton, 3rd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The beauty salon is represented as a place of luxurious body pampering, grooming, and sisterhood--absent dynamics of race, labor, and power. With South Asian threading salons emerging as an important site of beauty service from informal work at home to high-end chains at malls, the beauty practice of facial hair removal has established a diverse clientele and remains an entry job for South Asian migrant women in Los Angeles’ immigrant service sector. Drawing from 18 months of ethnographic fieldwork at two Los Angeles salons, I explore dimensions of affective and intimate labor between co-workers and customers in terms of exploitation and new tools for resistance.

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