Gender, empire, global capitalism: colonial and corporate expatriate wives

Fechter, Anne-Meike (2010) Gender, empire, global capitalism: colonial and corporate expatriate wives. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 36 (8). pp. 1279-1297. ISSN 1369-183X

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Abstract

This paper takes as a starting-point the striking disjunct between the wealth of historical studies on 'gender and empire', and a comparative lack of work that examines corresponding issues in the present. I suggest that discussions of gender and global capitalism are shaped by a focus on poor women, producing limited perspectives. The paper asks if analyses of colonial women could be used to elucidate the positions of a group that shares some of their characteristics, namely corporate expatriate wives. This is illustrated through the pejorative discourses surrounding colonial and contemporary expatriate wives. I argue that such discourse serves to both downplay and legitimise women's incorporation into imperial and commercial enterprises. While it has been demonstrated that women perform substantial emotional labour, I argue that their ideological labour within these projects tends to be overlooked. Expatriate women can thus become the embodiment of their exploitative nature, which problematises the tendency to conceptualise, for example, global capitalism as an inherently masculine enterprise. Recognising expatriate wives as postcolonial subjects also significantly broadens the concept, in the sense that they live in the context of imperial legacies which have been much less examined.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Submitted with Examining Expatriate Continuities.
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > Anthropology
Depositing User: Anne-Meike Fechter
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 15:04
Last Modified: 05 Nov 2013 10:01
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/10058
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