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The Traffic in Women’s WorkEast European Migration and the Making of Europe$
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Anca Parvulescu

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780226118246

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226118413.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 26 June 2022

. Import/Export

. Import/Export

Housework in an International Frame

(p.49) 2. Import/Export
The Traffic in Women’s Work

Anca Parvulescu

University of Chicago Press

This chapter brings together the book’s argument about the category “women’s work” in the context of post-Fordism. The narrative basis for the chapter is offered by Ulrich Seidl’s Import/Export (2007), a film that documents the labor of a Ukrainian nurse in Austria, where she is employed as a cleaning lady in a middle class home and a geriatric ward. The chapter revisits the second-wave feminist debate on housework, especially the work of Silvia Federici, Pat Mainardi, and Ellen Malos, locating “women’s work” within Fordist economy. It juxtaposes to this history the analysis of contemporary work offered by Italian autonomist neo-Marxists, especially the work of Maurizio Lazzarato and Paolo Virno, who often take the figure of the housewife as exemplary of the post-Fordist worker. What happens, the chapter asks, if we consider the Ukrainian cleaning lady as a new housewife figure and consider her work to be exemplary of post-Fordist “immaterial labor”? The chapter ends by pointing to a European linguistic hierarchy, arguing that the calculated failure of translation is an important ingredient in the traffic in women.

Keywords:   Ulrich Seidl, housework, women’s work, housewife, post-Fordism, Autonomist Marxism, immaterial labor, translation, Silvia Federici, Maurizio Lazzarato

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