Double containment in the afterlife of the plantation: living space reduction and domestic service assignation in Mauritius
Colette Le Petitcorps
(Institute of Social Sciences - University of Lisbon)
Paper short abstract:
This paper examines how the governance of coastal lands in Mauritius, pursuing the plantation system, creates a double containment of the local population: the reduction of their living space and mobility, and the confinement of women as maids in the domestic spaces of the new, wealthy settlers.
Paper long abstract:
On the western coast of Mauritius, the recent settlement of wealthy Mauritians and foreigners, the expansion of the touristic industry, and the development of residential gated areas on previous sugar fields and public beaches, have generated a double containment of the population of low income living there. The reduction of their living space and mobility, and the increasing diminution of land available for subsistence production, has led to the confinement of women, previously working for their household (in both productive and reproductive work, in and outside the home), in the domestic space of these wealthy others, to serve them for a low wage and without social protection. I argue that this process pursues the old plantation logic of land privatisation, however by shifting the use of land, from the production of goods for exportation, to the creation of areas of leisure and high living standards for an international upper class, where the services of local women are highly consumed. Using the empirical data collected from a previous fieldwork, I examine how the contemporary governance of the coastal land aims to, aside from profit making, control, pacify and "clean" the body of local women for domestic service, and hence to maintain a hierarchical and racialised social order in the zone. I will then analyse how some women refuse to serve in the homes, as an act of resistance both to the hierarchical social order and to the expropriation of the coastal space designed by this governance of the land.
Containment and excess: techniques for the pacing of mobility, idioms and forms of resistance