“Just Do It! Bodies and Images of Women in the New Division of Labor”
“Representation needs to be contextualized from several points. The representation of texts and images does not reflect the world as a mirror, mere translation of its sources, but is rather remodeled, coded in rhetorical terms. (…) Representation may be understood as a visible formal ‘articulation’ of social order “.
Griselda Pollock, Vision and Difference, 1994
WORK> NON WORK: REDEFINITIONS FROM FEMINISM
“What do you do? What is your occupation?” Although every day we all reply quite easily to this apparently simple question, if we stop and carefully think what is our interlocutor demanding, we conclude that, in fact, what he/she really wants to know is the job we have or the activity or activities we make for a living and does not expect us at all to enumerate the wide range of actions, relations and productions that we unfold throughout the day.
Defining work and its limits in abstract terms at the present time, where the times and locations of production became blurred and extended, is not an easy task. However, experiencing its consequences on our bodies seems to be less complicated, especially if we consider a definition of work that goes beyond the economistic view (whether neoclassical or Marxist) and, especially, if we understand our sustainment of a daily life and our daily incorporation of personalities and social actions as spaces and (re)productive efforts. Everything that tires, that occupies, that disciplines and stresses our body, but also everything that constructs it, that takes care of it, that gives it pleasure and maintains it, is work. Read more…
Precarious Lives, 43 min, 2008.
A film by Joanne Richardson and Andreea Carnu (RO/USA).
An experimental documentary mixing archival footage of female labour over the past century with 10 portraits of Romanian women working in different jobs and in different countries today. The film seeks to challenge the dominant discourse about precarity (and about the precariat as the new proletariat) and the fact that it ignores differences based on gender, limited mobility, and the first and third worlds of Europe.
1. dependence on chance circumstances beyond control, inability to plan one’s life
2. living without material or psychological security, stability and predictability
3. the widespread condition of flexible, intermittent, short-term and part-time work that characterizes post-Fordist capitalism?”(quote from the beginning of the film)
“As a noun, precarity does not exist. It is an adjective, modifying subjects, changing through circumstance. To understand what it means to be precarious, we must invert the theory, taking our own lives as a point of departure. To walk the streets that bring us together, and the routes that sometimes divide us. And while walking, to ask questions” (quote from the ending of the film)
Precarias a la Deriva, “Close encounters in the second phase: The communication continuum: care-sex-attention”
“Close encounters in the second phase: The communication continuum: care-sex-attention”
Precarias a la Deriva
Nov. 2003 [link]
Ya, desde el famoso 11 de setiembre
Ya, en una guerra global permanente
Yo, que vivo en guerra cotidianamente
Yo salgo a las calles y digo que NO!
(to strike in A major, to the tune of “Yo te amo con la fuerza de los mares”)
POINT OF DEPARTURE
In the months that followed the “Grand Show” of December of 2002, we began to give shape to what all of us understood as a second phase in our exploration of women’s precarious work. Some moved to other places and no longer shared the day to day of Precarias in Madrid, others joined the group or proposed particular initiatives: the publication of a text in a book or a web page, participation in a conference, collaboration in a video, or else accompanied us in organizing processes or in a mobilization. This coming and going makes room for a mode of networked cooperation which is not so much about belonging, in this case to the group of Precarias, as it is about opening a field of communication and fluid action – sometimes perhaps too diffuse – which we hope will become a means of constructing a new space of aggregation: the Laboratory of Women Workers. Read more…
Provisional European lexicon for free copy, modification, and distribution by the jugglers of life by some precarias a la deriva
Translated by Franco Ingrassia and Nate Holdren.
April, 2005 [Link]
Precarization of existence
In order to overcome the dichotomies of public/private and production/reproduction, and to recognize and give visibility to the interconnections between the social and the economic that make it impossible to think precariety from an exclusively laboral and salarial point of view, we define precarity as the set of material and symbolic conditions that determine a vital uncertainty with respect to the sustained access to the essential resources for the full development of the life of a subject. Read more…
“Preguntas para Precarias”
Precarias a la Deriva
How do (if at all) strains of theory (the Situationist theory of the derive, the work of Negri and Hardt) inform the work of Precarias?
Obviously, we’ve read a few things. But this doesn’t mean that we’re reading theoretical work and then looking for ways to put it into action: quite the contrary. We found ourselves in a certain situation and began to look for ways to understand it and intervene in it, and to the extent that other thinkers can provide us with tools or inspiration, we look to them. Mustn’t forget that any theory worth its salt is written as a tool for action in a specific context and moment. As for the influence of particular strains, I’d say we’re pretty eclectic: whatever seems useful. A lot of feminists, some operisti, some urban studies and an ongoing dialog with a number of other groups working on ‘activist research’ (like Situaciones in Buenos Aires). I don’t know if you can get your hands on the book Nociones Comunes but in the introduction the editor (Marta Malo, one of the Precarias girls) writes a very nice genealogy of influences; maybe I can get you a copy (in spanish, haven’t translated it yet) Read more…
“First Stutterings of ‘Precarias a la Deriva'”
Precarias a la Deriva
April, 2003 [Link]
Trabajo flexible ¿Es que somos invisibles?
Trabajo inmaterial ¡Ay que estrés mental!
Trabajo de jornalera ¡Eso es la repera!
(Little song by Precarias a la Deriva in the General Strike of 20 June 2002)
Precarias a la deriva (Precarious women workers adrift) is a collective project of investigation and action. The concerns of the participants in this open project converged the 20th of June 2002, the day of the general strike called by the major unions in Spain. Some of us had already initiated a trajectory of reflection and intervention in questions of the transformations of labor (in groups such as ‘ZeroWork’ and Sex, Lies and Precariousness, or individually), others wished to begin to think through these themes. In the days before the strike we came together to brainstorm an intervention which would reflect our times, aware that the labor strike, as the culminating expression of a process of struggle, was unsatisfactory for us for three reasons: (1) for not taking up –and this is no novelty- the experience and the unjust division of domestic work and care, almost entirely done by women in the ‘non-productive’ sphere, (2) for the marginalization to which both the forms of action and the proposals of the strike condemn those in types of work –ever more common- which are generally lumped together as ‘precarious’ and (3) for not taking into consideration precarious, flexible, invisible or undervalued work, specifically that of women and/or migrants (sexual, domestic, assistance, etc.). As a friend recently pointed out in the context of the more recent ‘political’ strike against the war (April 10, 2003), “How do we invent new forms of striking when production fragments and dislocates itself, when it is organized in such a way that to stop working for a few hours (or even 24) does not necessarily effect the production process, and when our contract situation is so fragile that striking today means risking the possibility of working tomorrow?” Read more…
“Precarious Changes: Gender and Generational Politics in Contemporary Italy”
Feminist Review 87 (5–20), 2007. [PDF]
The issue of a generational exchange in Italian feminism has been crucial over the last decade. Current struggles over precariousness have revived issues previously raised by feminists of the 1970s, recalling how old forms of instability and precarious employment are still present in Italy. This essay starts from the assumption that precariousness is a constitutive aspect of many young Italian women’s lives. Young Italian feminist scholars have been discussing the effects of such precarity on their generation. This article analyses the literature produced by political groups of young scholars interested in gender and feminism connected to debates on labour and power in contemporary Italy. One of the most successful strategies that younger feminists have used to gain visibility has involved entering current debates on precariousness, thus forcing a connection with the larger Italian labour movement. In doing so, this new wave of feminism has destabilized the universalism assumed by the 1970s generation. By pointing to a necessary generational change, younger feminists have been able to mark their own specificity and point to exploitative power dynamics within feminist groups, as well as in the family and in the workplace without being dismissed. In such a layered context, many young feminists argue that precariousness is a life condition, not just the effect of job market flexibility and not solely negative. The literature produced by young feminists addresses the current strategies engineered to make ‘their’ precarious life more sustainable. This essay analyses such strategies in the light of contemporary Italian politics. The main conclusion is that younger Italian women’s experience requires new strategies and tools for struggle, considering that the visibility of women as political subjects is still quite minimal. Female precariousness can be seen as a fruitful starting point for a dialogue across differences, addressing gender and reproduction, immigration, work and social welfare at the same time. Read more…