ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Of Rasoi ka Kaam/Bathroom ka Kaam

Perspectives of Women Domestic Workers

Practices of purity and pollution have been a critical area of inquiry in paid domestic work relations in India. This paper revisits the idea of purity and pollution in the space of the home in paid domestic work, but with the intent to turn the gaze around. It shifts the focus by looking at workers as the subjects and examining their responses. It argues that the existing frameworks for looking at the space of home and the practices of purity and pollution are limiting and have to be revisited to develop a dynamic understanding of the everyday reality of domestic work and caste hierarchies at work.

This paper is a modified version of a section of the thesis submitted to the School of Development Studies, Dr B R Ambedkar University, Delhi by the author, in partial fulfi lment of Master’s degree in Development Studies. A previous version of this paper was presented at the X International Conference on Labour History, 22–24 March 2014 at V V Giri National Labour Institute, Noida/New Delhi. This paper has benefi ted immensely from the comments of my dissertation supervisor, Sumangala Damodaran. I am thankful to Judith Heyer, Ben Mendlkern, Saumyajit Bhattacharya, Anusha Hariharan and Eesha Kunduri for their valuable feedback on various drafts of this paper.

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