The Kitchen Spoon's Handle: Transnationalism and Sri Lanka's Migrant Housemaids

The Kitchen Spoon's Handle: Transnationalism and Sri Lanka's Migrant Housemaids

by Michele Ruth Gamburd
     
 

ISBN-10: 0801486440

ISBN-13: 9780801486449

Pub. Date: 10/28/2000

Publisher: Cornell University Press

A common Sinhala proverb states, "A woman's understanding reaches only the length of the kitchen spoon's handle." In this beautifully written book on the effects of female migration from Sri Lanka, Michele Ruth Gamburd shows that the length of that handle now spans several thousand miles, rather than a mere twelve inches.

During the past twenty years, a great many

…  See more details below

Overview

A common Sinhala proverb states, "A woman's understanding reaches only the length of the kitchen spoon's handle." In this beautifully written book on the effects of female migration from Sri Lanka, Michele Ruth Gamburd shows that the length of that handle now spans several thousand miles, rather than a mere twelve inches.

During the past twenty years, a great many Sri Lankan women have left their homes and families to work as housemaids in the wealthy oil-producing states of the Middle East. Gamburd explores global and local, as well as personal, reasons why so many women leave to work so far away. Focusing primarily on the home community, rather than on the experiences of the workers abroad, she vividly illustrates the impact of the migration on those left behind and on the migrants who return.

As migrant women take on the formerly masculine role of breadwinner, Gamburd explains, traditional concepts of the value of "women's work" are significantly altered. She examines the effects of female migration on caste hierarchies, class relations, gender roles, and family interactions.

The Kitchen Spoon's Handle skillfully blends the stories and memories of returned migrants and their families and neighbors with interviews with government officials, recruiting agents, and moneylenders. The book provides a rich and sensitive portrait of the confluence of global and local processes in the lives of the villagers. Gamburd presents a sophisticated, yet very readable, discussion of current theories of power, agency, and identity.

About the Author:
Michele Ruth Gamburd is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Portland State University

Read More

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780801486449
Publisher:
Cornell University Press
Publication date:
10/28/2000
Pages:
272
Sales rank:
1,321,756
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction1
1Labor Migration: National and International Contexts25
2Administrative Structures: Getting a Job Abroad48
3Moneylenders: Crucial Resources and Crippling Interest Rates75
4Agency: Women's Work Experiences Abroad99
5Control of Remittances: Prosperity and the Extended Family123
6Caste Relations: Social Mobility and Land Reform151
7Breadwinners No More: Masculinity in Flux173
8Migrant Mothering: On Love and Money193
9Immoral Maid and Abusive Employer: The Horror Story Genre209
Conclusion232
App. AAn Orthography of Spoken Sinhala245
App. BCalculating Inflation in Sri Lanka248
Bibliography251
Index267

Read More

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >