Academic Hour: Exclusion through Care: Bitterness and Belonging among African Care Workers in the United States

By Cathleen M. Coe, Rutgers University

2018.01.15 | Jon Bendixen

Date Wed 16 May
Time 13:00 15:00
Location Lecture Hall (4206-139), Campus Moesgaard

In our contemporary period of human mobility and global capitalism, political identifications are being configured in multiple sites beyond the nation-state. This paper analyzes how political belonging is created, or destroyed, through work. In particular, it examines how the recognitions and reciprocities entailed by care work affect the political belonging of new African migrants in the United States. Care for America’s growing seniors is increasingly provided by migrants, and it is only expected to grow, as experts in health care anticipate a care crunch. Because of the demand for elder care and the low barriers to entry, new African immigrants have adopted elder care as a niche employment sector. However, elder care puts care workers into racialized, gendered and age hierarchies, and made it difficult to achieve social and economic mobility. Through working in elder care, African care workers see the United States as uninhabitable, in the sense that it does not reciprocate their labor and makes a respected personhood impossible. In its analysis, the paper highlights a more complex process of racialization and incorporation for Black immigrants in the United States than is commonly posited.

CAS, Antropologi