Graduation Year

Spring 2014

Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis


International and Intercultural Studies

Reader 1

Piya Chatterjee

Reader 2

Joe Parker

Rights Information

© 2014 Emery Lieberman-Auerbach


This thesis predominantly seeks to explore the entanglements of class, patriarchy and global capital embedded within North Indian domestic work. The thesis firstly examines how the neoliberal policies of the 1980s and 90s shattered village economies and brought about the mass displacement of tribals and landless farmers, forced to leave the land they have cultivated for generations in pursuit of employment in India’s urban centers. While male migrants often find work in the informal sector and settle in slum communities, female rural migrants constitute the immense population of domestic workers within the confines of urban middle class homes. This thesis explores the histories, past and present, of Indian cultures of servitude that have brought migrant motherhood to a crisis point. The interdisciplinary analyses of the political economy of intimate labor are supplemented by a micro-level analysis of my own positionality within a middle class urban home in Jaipur, Rajasthan to bring an alternative perspective to the multiplicity of dialogues about ethical relationships with domestic workers. This thesis ultimately aims to open lines of inquiry about the inequalities embedded within domestic work in order to bring about a radical re-imagining of one’s own participation in the layers and chains of exploitative labor.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.