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Social and Behavioral Sciences Commons

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Anthropology

Portland State University

Women household employees -- Employment -- Middle East

Publication Year

Articles 1 - 4 of 4

Full-Text Articles in Social and Behavioral Sciences

Milk Teeth And Jet Planes: Kin Relations In Families Of Sri Lanka’S Transnational Domestic Servants, Michele Ruth Gamburd Jan 2008

Milk Teeth And Jet Planes: Kin Relations In Families Of Sri Lanka’S Transnational Domestic Servants, Michele Ruth Gamburd

Anthropology Faculty Publications and Presentations

This essay examines the confluence of local and global dynamics, exploring how transnational migration affects and is affected by gender roles, kinship relations, intergenerational obligations, and ideologies of parenthood. Journeying to the Middle East repeated on two-year labor contracts, many of Sri Lanka’s migrant housemaids leave behind their husbands and children. Women’s long-term absences reorganize and disrupt widely accepted gendered attributions of parenting roles, with fathers and female relatives taking over household tasks. Migrants say that economic difficulties prompt migration, and assess commitment to kin in financial terms. The government also benefits from remittances. Nevertheless, stakeholders (villagers, politicians ...


In The Wake Of The Gulf War: Assessing Family Spending Of Compensation Money In Sri Lanka, Michele Ruth Gamburd Jan 2003

In The Wake Of The Gulf War: Assessing Family Spending Of Compensation Money In Sri Lanka, Michele Ruth Gamburd

Anthropology Faculty Publications and Presentations

Between 1997 and 2000, the United Nations Compensation Commission delivered US$ 4000 apiece to roughly 87,000 Sri Lankan citizens who suffered displacement and loss of employment due to Iraq’s military actions in Kuwait during the Gulf War. Using qualitative ethnographic data, this essay examines eleven case studies of Kuwait returnees in the village of Naeaegama, in southern Sri Lanka. Like the majority of Sri Lankans caught in the Gulf War, these returnees are women from poor rural families who worked as domestic servants in Kuwait. The essay compares how the eleven households have spent compensation money and migrants ...


Class Identity And The International Division Of Labor: Sri Lanka's Migrant Housemaids, Michele Ruth Gamburd Dec 1998

Class Identity And The International Division Of Labor: Sri Lanka's Migrant Housemaids, Michele Ruth Gamburd

Anthropology Faculty Publications and Presentations

In 1996, 408,000 Sri Lankan women, nearly 10% of the country’s working-age women, worked abroad, many of them in the oil producing countries of the Persian Gulf. In this paper I compare the influence of international migration on local hierarchies of class and gender in two villages in southern Sri Lanka: a Sinhala-speaking Buddhist village where I did my doctoral dissertation research in 1992-4, and a Tamil-speaking Muslim village where I spent some time during the summer of 1997. I discuss the challenges of using ‘class’ as a unit of analysis in a non-Western setting where gender identities ...


Sri Lanka's "Army Of Housemaids": Control Of Remittances And Gender Transformations, Michele Ruth Gamburd Dec 1995

Sri Lanka's "Army Of Housemaids": Control Of Remittances And Gender Transformations, Michele Ruth Gamburd

Anthropology Faculty Publications and Presentations

When the mass labor migration of women to the Middle East began in the early 1980's, many Sri Lankan social scientists predicted a revolution in gender equality and a greater participation by women in political and economic decision-making as a result of employment abroad. Noting that gender rarely correlates in predictable ways with social change, and questioning the dominant teleological ideology that change always happens for the better, this paper looks at relations between female migrants in a coastal village in the Southwest and the people responsible for spending and saving the money they remit to the village. Several ...