Eleonore Kofman and Parvati Raghuram: Gendered Migrations and Global Social Reproduction.

Author:Brownlee, Patrick
Position::Book review
 
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Eleonore Kofman and Parvati Raghuram

Gendered Migrations and Global Social Reproduction, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015; 254 pp.: ISBN 9781349358847, 65 [pounds sterling]

Studies of migration as a defining feature of contemporary global capitalism inevitably encounter gendered patterns of mobility. As Eleonore Kofman and Parvati Raghuram detail in Gendered Migrations and Global Social Reproduction, gendered migration globally is a mosaic of multivariate contexts and instantiations, rather than one pattern which finds women always migrating into domestic work, following spouses or trafficked as indentured sex workers. The prevailing ontological catch phrase to explain such migration has been the feminisation of migration, a conceptual description that has always suggested--uncomfortably and erroneously--that men are the original migrants, women follow (or stay behind). This concept has predominated, according to the authors, as studies of migration that explain a relationship with capitalism default to holding production as the significant analytical point. Kofman and Raghuram bring a fresh perspective to the study of gender, migration and capital by arguing that social reproduction underpins the material world order; that it is the fundament to capital. The reference point is unambiguously Marxian: all production is social reproduction.

In real terms, this materiality is (still) strongly gendered. However, with the growth in outsourcing, marketising and also socialising of every aspect of social reproduction from human reproduction (conception, birth and rearing of children), human productiveness (education and training) and human sustenance (household and family services, cooking, cleaning, home maintenance, health and well-being, including certain personal care or 'bodywork' services)--the specificity of gender to this work can be upset. Marketisation of reproduction (care; household work) re-configures and challenges unpaid welfare and care as feminised.

The core problem, however, according to the authors, is a crisis in social reproduction. And this is where migration plays a defining part by meeting a market need in normative gendered terms. Privatisation of care, outsourcing of welfare to individual, commercial and government actors, alongside more flexible, that is, precarious work, problematise traditional reproductive structures (nuclear family, predictability or reliability of communities) and surety for reproduction of...

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