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This ethnography focuses on the emotions of the women of color who elaborated on their experiences working for wealthy, white families in ethnographic interviews. This project is interested in the connections formed between nannies and mother-employers with the goal of better understanding the positionalities of female domestic workers of color. Immigrant populations are frequently depicted by news outlets as overworked, underpaid, and poor. When interacting with nannies, I realized that these women did not consider themselves impoverished despite working in a role that is identifiable with servanthood. The labor that nannies perform calls back to a long tradition of women of color acting as servants in the homes of wealthier, white families. The most obvious example would perhaps be the role of black female slaves during the Antebellum period.
I hope to go against the damaging stereotypes that bound these underrepresented workers to their material conditions, denying them autonomy as individuals. By drawing a clear distinction between belonging to an underrepresented group and existing in the world as an individual actor, I hope to go against the misconception that people who lack agency in the government and media also lack agency in their daily lives. The women of color who serve as nannies in downtown Manhattan are categorized as an oppressed group yet gain an exceptional amount of power over mother-employers by being emotionally present within the workplace
Senior Project submitted to The Division of Social Studies of Bard College.
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Paula, Esmeralda, "The Immigrant Nannies of New York City: An Examination of The Friendships Between Nannies and Mother-Employers" (2022). Senior Projects Spring 2022. 276.
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