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Permeable Homes: Domestic Service, Household Space, and the Vulnerability of Class Boundaries in Urban India

Sara Dickey
American Ethnologist
Vol. 27, No. 2 (May, 2000), pp. 462-489
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the American Anthropological Association
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/647180
Page Count: 28
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Permeable Homes: Domestic Service, Household Space, and the Vulnerability of Class Boundaries in Urban India
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Abstract

Servants' movements into and out of middle- and upper-class homes in the South Indian City of Madurai create a mixing of outside and inside spaces. Employers feel that this mixing threatens the security of their homes and class standing. Yet, because the presence of servants is a necessary marker of class, employers attempt to contain the threat by buttressing the symbolic boundaries of the household, controlling domestic workers' movements through space, and manipulating workers' closeness to and distance from employers. These employers' accounts and actions reveal central concepts of and anxieties about class in contemporary urban India. [class, space, domestic service, women, domesticity]

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