Non-Fiction Books:

In Service and Servitude

Foreign Female Domestic Workers and the Malaysian "Modernity Project"
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Paperback / softback
In Service and Servitude by Christine Chin

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This text explores the relationship between the global trend toward open markets and Malaysia's state-supported "maid trade" in which Filipina and Indonesian women are imported as consumer goods. A native of Malaysia living in the United States, the author was visiting her family in Kuala Lumpur when she discovered a servant chained by her ankle in a neighbour's back yard. The neighbours claimed they were only making sure the servant wouldn't steal food while they were away. In her investigations, Chin discovered a widespread difference among educated, middle-class Malaysians to the deprivation and sexual exploitation that Filipina and Indonesian domestics are commonly expected to endure as part of their job. The book explores how the shared interests of state elites and the middle classes rationalize mistreatment of domestic workers because the women are useful in the state's "modernity project", designed to create a stable, economically developed society. Chin argues that the "premodern" exploitation of migrant domestic workers is at odds with the global expansion of open markets and free trade, and should not be legitimized in pursuit of the "good life".

Author Biography

Christine B. N. Chin is assistant professor of international relations in the School of International Service at American University.
Release date NZ
June 2nd, 1998
Country of Publication
United States
Columbia University Press
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