Analysis Tool Bar +
Gendering Globalization: Imperial Domesticity and Identity in Northern Pakistan
In this article, Professor Nancy Cook wishes to address the frequent absence of gender in studies of globalization. She notes that globalization processes are often seen somehow as gender neutral. Or, as she and others have noted, the macroeconomic and macropolitical processes associated with globalization are masculinized, so that we are left with a mapping of globalization onto the following binary: global:masculine, local:feminine. In opposition to these kinds of arguments, Professor Cook suggests that globalization and gender relations are mutually constitutive.
Drawing from feminist scholarship, she sees this mutually constitutive character of globalization-gender relations in a complex four-way relationship that she outlines in the first section of the paper. She suggests that globalization reinforces or reshapes gender relations, institutions, and inequalities in particular places. She adds that gender actually facilitates the production of globalization, particularly through gender hierarchies. Professor Cook notes that globalization has differential effects on women and men. Finally, she observes that globalization is often discursively gendered.
Responding to Carli Freeman's call for more micro-level analyses that specify how global processes play out in particular locales for particular groups of people with particular consequences, Professor Cook then explores these types of relationships between gender and globalization through a case study of Western women working in Gilgit, Pakistan as development workers. In a careful analysis, she traces how former imperial practices related to constructing domesticity as a racial, class, and gender barrier are reproduced in this post-colonial setting. In her words, "Home, as a unit of civilization, is … where racial, class, and imperial identities are constructed." After looking at various ways domesticity is constructed, she then turns her attention to see how governmentality operates when it comes to the relations between Western women and servants who work both outside and inside the home.
The ethnographic detail in this examination of domesticity, whether in the building of home or the governance of servants in the home is impressive and effectively organized and presented. Consequently, Professor Cook provides a model for thinking about gender and globalization and for studying how these phenomena are mutually constitutive.
William D. Coleman, McMaster University
In this paper I contribute to the feminist project of developing gendered analyses of globalization by providing a micro-level study of the effects of intersecting gender, racial, and class relations on global processes of cultural imperialism in contemporary northern Pakistan. More specifically, I examine the mutually constitutive link between the structuring of Western women development workers' domestic spaces and identities in Gilgit and imperial processes, what I will call imperial domesticity. (See Appendix 1 for an outline of the social characteristics of the participants in this research project.) Women's gendered rituals of domesticity and strategies of servant management are the key facets of imperial domesticity highlighted in the paper.
Anne McClintock (1995), Alison Blunt (1999a, 1999b), Inderpal Grewal (1996), and Rosemary George (1994) have already explored these interconnections among imperial processes, domestic space, and discourses of gender in the colonial era. In particular, they have convincingly argued that imperial power and identities rely, in part, on imaginative geographies of home. Blunt (1999a, 422) argues that, in the context of nineteenth century South Asia, "British homes in India were seen…to foster appropriate gender roles, national virtues, and imperial rule. Imperial domesticity, its supposed superiority to Indian domesticity, and the place of British women in maintaining such domestic superiority were all thought to bolster the success of imperial power." Successfully maintaining imperial rule on a domestic scale was achieved through women's own appropriate gender behaviours and identities in the home, as well as by concentrating on the unequal relationships between British women and their indigenous servants. As their domestic roles reproduced imperial power relations on a household scale, the political significance of imperial domesticity extended beyond the boundaries of the home, demonstrating how home constructs empire as empire constructs home.
In support of their arguments, these scholars have drawn on evidence from published colonial-era literature, including women's household management guides, travel narratives, and popular novels. While these textual analyses have been effective in delineating the importance of domestic spaces, practices, and identities to imperial ventures in the colonial era, by drawing on ethnographic fieldwork among Western women development workers living in Gilgit I am interested to trace the legacy of nineteenth century imperial domesticity into the current period of globalization by examining how these processes operate in everyday life in this contemporary transcultural social setting.
As I theorize the ways in which imperial processes are constituted on a domestic scale by regulating self and servant, I draw on the concept of governmentality, a framework for analysing power initially outlined by Michel Foucault. It is a concept according to which the exercise of power is not limited to large-scale actors such as the state, which makes it particularly well-suited to understanding processes of governance in relation to imperial domesticity. Governmentality refers to "all endeavours to shape, guide and direct the conduct of [self and] others" (Rose 1999, 3-4). The domestic governance of self, then, describes Western women's struggles to maintain an appropriate identity and set of behaviours by cultivating their distinction from Others via self-privileging gender, class, and racially coded rules for living, with imperial effects.
The Western women in my study have chosen to travel to Gilgit for reasons of adventure, philanthropy, and job advancement, although most of them would have preferred work placements in a non-Muslim country. Apart from the few women for whom Gilgit is their first development job, many of my research participants have favoured working in northern Canada, Africa, western China, and Southeast Asia. The experience of global travel provides them with a sense of adventure and gendered self-determination as competent individuals doing vital development work. In terms of philanthropy, most of them also come to instigate socio-cultural reforms by revamping the local education and health systems according to Western standards and by "freeing" Muslim women from an ostensibly oppressive Islamic culture through a facile transfer of Western expertise and their own "liberated" example, although many are fleeing dead-end and low-paid jobs, troubling spousal relations, empty nests, elderly parent nursing responsibilities, and bereavements. Working abroad empowers them by increasing their knowledge, specialization, and experience, which can translate into professional advancement, work autonomy, and pay increases once they return home. Teaching overseas in educational development also allows them to realize their intellectual potential and to garner some authority by training mostly male teachers, being Western educated, and representing their development work as an essential cultural "improvement" project. In deciding to accept a job placement in Gilgit, Western women use the sense of authority they gain through travel and "benevolent" development work to protect themselves against the gender and sexual oppression they expect to experience when living in an Islamic society. These women's global travel experiences, international development philosophies, and philanthropic aspirations, like their domestic identities and practices, partially recuperate colonial-era discourses of gender, class, race, Orientalism, and imperialism that continue to privilege them in post-colonial times (see Cook 2005, 2006a, 2006b, forthcoming(a)).
My argument in the remainder of the paper is divided into four main sections. First, to contextualize my analysis of imperial domesticity I briefly outline the larger feminist argument regarding the multifaceted connection between gender and globalization. In the second section I introduce in more detail my research setting and larger ethnographic project, as well as my research participants. The third section describes how Western women development workers maintain appropriate gender behaviour in their homes by transforming local rented houses into Western homes where they feel comfortable, contained, and in control. Fourth, I address the ways in which Western women manage their relationships with Gilgiti servants. In both of these instances of governmentality, discursive practices of gender, class, race, and imperialism intersect to constitute Western homes in Gilgit as sites of imperial domesticity. In the paper's conclusion I draw together these analytic insights with the feminist claim about the overlapping nature of gender and global power relations, arguing for more research that explicitly genders globalization.(2000), Marianne Marchand and Anne Sisson Runyan outline dominant myths about globalization that pervade the social sciences. In particular, they criticize the conventional understanding of globalization as primarily a macroeconomic process that is magically generated outside the context of everyday life and thus beyond our ability to control. They, along with other feminist scholars (Chow 2003; Eschle 2001, 2004; Findlay 2004; Freeman 2000, 2001; Gottfried 2004; Hooper 2000; Katz 2001; Nagar et al. 2002; Salzinger 2004), are also concerned with the foundational gender myths that structure mainstream theories of globalization, especially the widespread assumption that globalization is a gender neutral process. Ester Chow (2003) and Carla Freeman (2001) link these two myths by explaining that, because mainstream literature mainly focuses on macro-level economic flows, forces and processes, analyses are conducted from a god's eye view; they are positioned at a general or abstract level that overlooks how globalization shapes gender (and sexual, racial, and class) relationships and people's lives in particular locales, as well as its differential effects on men and women in those settings. Even when gender is considered, studies usually concentrate on the effects of globalization on women and men, rather than on the ways dominant gender relations affect global processes. Consequently, according to Freeman (2001, 1008),
Two interconnected patterns have emerged: the erasure of gender as integral to social and economic dimensions of globalisation when framed at the macro or 'grand theory' level, and an implicit masculinisation of these macrostructural models. One outcome of these problems has been the implicit, but powerful, dichotomous model in which the gender of globalisation is mapped in such a way that global:masculine as local:feminine.
What is required in order to understand global processes more fully and precisely, without implicit gender baggage, is a style of analysis that shows how globalization operates through multiple modes and is effected through large-scale institutions, as well as by individuals who are engaged in a variety of locally-situated activities that are embedded within, but at the same time actively transform global processes.
Freeman (2001) calls for more micro-level analyses that actually specify how global processes play out in particular locales for particular groups of people with particular consequences. Such analyses would render the links between gender and globalization more visible, and this, in turn, would contribute to a more measured overall understanding of the forms, impacts, experiences and meanings of globalization. The gendering of globalization thus "challenges the very constitution of that macropicture such that producers, consumers and bystanders of globalisation are not generic bodies or invisible practitioners of labour and desire but are situated within social and economic processes and cultural meanings that are central to globalisation itself" (Freeman 2001, 1010).
Feminists argue that gendering our analysis of globalization improves understandings of what globalization is, how it works, how it affects people's lives, how it is influenced by gender hierarchies and discourses, and how those gender hierarchies in turn shape global institutions and relationships. With these analytic benefits in mind, feminist scholarship has described a complex four-way relationship between gender relations and global processes. First, globalization reinforces or reshapes gender relations, institutions, and inequalities in particular places. For example, transnational corporations (TNCs) often rely on a locally established gender division of labour to draw certain groups of people into the global labour force. In sub-Saharan Africa, men tend to be drawn into cash cropping for export, leaving women to continue with subsistence agriculture (Chow 2003). In this case, traditional gender relations and inequalities are reinforced. In other places in Africa, however, women have been drawn into export, as well as subsistence agriculture as men travel to urban centres in search of paid work. These women often become household heads and primary wage earners, and their new access to jobs and money gives them more leverage in family decision-making, reshaping gender relations as the institution of the family changes (Pyle and Ward 2003). Globalization thus constructs gender differentially in women's and men's access to and control of resources, values, identities and choices as it (re)constitutes gender relations.
Second, discourses of gender constitute the very logic, as well as the various processes and structures, of globalization. In other words, gender actually facilitates the production of globalization. It is now commonly understood that dominant discourses of gender value those things associated with masculinity; they produce gender hierarchies. Global processes are gendered in that they draw on practices and representations that naturalize these gender hierarchies. For instance, TNCs often use gender hierarchies to their economic advantage to restrict women's access to certain jobs and to feminize the cheap labour of women (Chow 2003; Katz 2001; Marchand and Runyan, 2000; Nagar et al. 2002; Pyle and Ward 2003). They employ gender discourses about women as "secondary" wage earners primarily dedicated to home in order to justify paying them less, offering them only part-time, casual, and home-based work, and keeping them in low-skilled jobs (Freeman 2000, 2001; Salzinger 2004). They also admit to preferring women workers due to their ostensible "nimble fingers" and passivity, which supposedly makes them less likely to resist oppressive working conditions (Pyle and Ward 2003). We can see in these few instances that the processes by which labour is recruited, workers are disciplined and controlled, goods are marketed and consumed, and worker migration patterns are created are often infused with expectations that rely on discourses of gender.
Third, globalization has differential impacts on women and men. In terms of financial globalization, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (WB) typically require in-debt countries to adopt Structural Adjustment Policies (SAPs) that mandate opening their borders to foreign trade and investment, privatizing state-owned industries, reducing budget deficits and government expenditures on social services, and cutting government employees who are largely women (Chow 2003; Pyle and Ward 2003). The effects of SAPs fall heavily on women, who have to try to maintain their families' standards of living despite decreased government expenditures on housing, health, education, and food and fuel subsidies. Women take on added household responsibilities and seek additional income-earning activities in the formal sector to make up the difference. Therefore, women absorb the cost of a shrinking welfare state through increased workload, stress, and work-related health hazards. They are the "shock absorbers" of IMF and WB policies in terms of both their paid and unpaid labour (Denis 2003; Lindio-McGovern 2003; Osirim 2003).
Fourth, globalization is discursively gendered, as it is associated with tropes of masculinity. Scholars often use the terms "penetrate," "disseminate," "conquest," and "settlement" to describe global processes, and in so doing discursively constitute them as masculine processes. Globalization is perhaps most often referred to as violent "penetration," which draws on gendered notions of rape where men are the aggressors and women the passive victims. In this way globalization is represented as an irresistible masculine force (Eschle 2004; Smith 2001). When we consider these multifaceted interweavings of gender relations and global processes, globalization materializes as a gendered/gendering phenomenon at the level of social institutions, discourses, culture, and everyday life. Before I move on to an analysis of gendered imperial processes in Gilgit, I proceed with a description of my research setting and participants.
When the Karakorum Highway (KKH) opened in 1978, the Northern Areas were connected to southern Pakistan and Xinjiang province in China by a paved road that traces one of the ancient silk routes of Central Asia. Gilgit was almost immediately affected by the increased economic trade and human mobility that the KKH allows, which initiated state attempts to integrate a largely subsistence agricultural society into the national economy. The city became the administrative, military, and economic centre of the Northern Areas, attracting traders and tourists, migrants from outlying villages, and various international development organizations. As a result, the population of Gilgit has grown dramatically. In the last census of 1981, the population of Gilgit was estimated at 28,000 (Streefland et al. 1995). In 2002, the approximate number was 60,000.
Development activity in the region was consolidated and intensified by the Aga Khan Rural Support Program beginning in December 1982. Next to the army and the civil administration it is the largest employer in the region, with its Northern Areas head office in Gilgit. Along with numerous other development programs, it employs many local people and down-country Pakistanis, as well as Western student interns, volunteers, consultants, and administrators. This wide-ranging development activity explains why there are approximately seventy-five Westerners living in and around Gilgit.
During the summers of 1999 and 2000 I conducted thirty-seven in-depth interviews, nine months of participant observation, and several group interviews with Western women in Gilgit. In previous years when I was visiting the area, expatriate women said that, like me, they found it difficult to construct comfortable lives, identities, and relationships in this socially and religiously unfamiliar social setting. I subsequently wanted to understand how they negotiated identity (re)configurations in Gilgit through particular discursive frameworks and socio-spatial practices, and, consequently, how they perpetuate and resist relations of domination as they imagine themselves in relation to the people among whom they live, construct communities and homes, and build careers and relationships in Gilgit. The resulting study (Cook, forthcoming(b)) examines these aspects of the lives of thirty1 British, Canadian, Dutch, American, German, and Australian women working for international development agencies in Gilgit on two-year contracts negotiated mainly through the British agency Volunteer Services Overseas (VSO). The majority are teachers, librarians, project managers, English-language coaches, and teacher trainers whose job is to instruct local educators on new methods of teaching the curriculum in English. The rest are health professionals and spouses of salaried upper-level development personnel who became involved in development work after they arrived. Some women in these latter two groups have decided to settle in Gilgit for the long term. They are all well-educated women who range in marital status and age (see Appendix 1).
The unstructured interviews I conducted allowed me to explore meanings, experiences, opinions, and representational knowledge among these women, but they did not produce a strong impression of their daily lives in Gilgit. Participant observation allowed me to develop longer term and multifaceted relationships with research participants, enabling the collection of first-hand data on their social interactions, behaviours, movement patterns, and everyday activities. Together, interview and participant observation data suggest that as Western women manage local servants and constitute their gender identity through the domestic governance of self, they largely recuperate in the global present imperial power relations that are a contingent legacy of the colonial era.(as quoted in Strobel 1991, 10-11) offers Western women exoticist guidance for maintaining identity and self-control in unsettling colonial space in a description of her situation in Nigeria in 1913: "When you are alone, among thousands of unknown, unpredictable people, dazed by unaccustomed sights and sounds, bemused by strange ways of life and thought, you need to remember who you are, where you come from, what your standards are. A material discipline represents — and aids — a moral discipline." In the social setting of contemporary Gilgit, most Western women cope with an unfamiliar culture through material discipline and day-to-day processes of self-governance that include making a "proper" home among ostensibly less happy and less well-appointed Gilgiti households.2 Domesticity, as a feminized discourse, delegates the job of homemaking to women, the angels of the hearth. But femininity is not the only discourse of power at work in the home, as the "moral" implications of "material discipline" suggest. Home, as a unit of civilization, is also where racial, class, and imperial identities are constructed.
As Ann Stoler (1995) argues, the making of Western women's middle-class distinctions in (post)-colonial space is achieved in situ through the racialized notion of civility, rather than being transported from the West. By maintaining a carefully circumscribed, civilized home, Western women nurture moral authority through a "cult of sensibility" (Wilson 2004, 20) and keep "cultural degeneracy" at bay, thereby sustaining those who occupy the highest rungs of the cultural, racial, and moral hierarchy. A civilized home is thus a class obligation that denotes middle-class respectability and racial superiority, as it marks cultural membership. As a place where racial and class differences are constructed, the bourgeois "home away from home" becomes another site for perpetuating values, binaries, practices, and hierarchies that support an imperial logic in post-colonial times.
Western women in Gilgit cultivate civility, middle-class respectability, and racial difference in many ways through the "domestic management of imperialism" (Blunt 1999b, 108). Perhaps their most notable effort is appointing their rented houses, especially their kitchens, with comfortable amenities and foodstuffs. Evelyn describes some of these efforts: "You must go to Abbie's and René's homes. They are posh…If you saw those homes in Canada you'd say 'Wow, this is really nice.' They are beautifully decorated, with borders, hand painted, going all the way around the room. I mean, you have to see it to believe it. It's stunning." Speaking on her own behalf, Abbie enjoys "the decorating, painting, and buying stuff. I have a sewing machine, but the fabric and tailors here are so cheap, so they do all that stuff. Doing up our kitchen, I spent a lot of time with that, and cooking." Because Esra plans to live in Gilgit for several years, she has "the feeling that it's worth investing in a stove, a fridge, and making bread and cookies. Yeah, I suppose things that make us feel settled and rooted. I also brought over some vegetable suet so I could make mincemeat. The way we live Christmas here is the way my husband's family lives it at home." Sarah's "number one concern was getting a house that we both liked. It's sunny with a great view. We've made it as comfortable as possible with a generator and battery system for lights, running the washing machine, keeping the refrigerator going. For eating, we bring beef and fish from Islamabad, plus some other items we can't get here in Gilgit, like Dutch cheese." Acknowledging her extravagance, Evelyn brings food from Islamabad, from Canada as well, "in embarrassingly large quantities, as in lots of money. We go to Islamabad and spend Rs. 10,000 [$190 Cnd] on food, olives and feta, and cheese, and meat and more cheese."
As Esra mentions, homemaking makes most Western women in Gilgit feel settled, rooted, comforted in an unfamiliar social milieu. Consequently, Abbie's questionable advice to newly-arrived foreigners about settling in is to "spend a lot of money. I don't know if that's good from a local standpoint, but buy a car, a generator, and get a house with good water, geysers, and big kerosene stoves." Without Abbie's ambivalent sensitivity to recently circulating development, human rights, and anti-imperialist discourses that dissuade wealthy Westerners from displaying colonial-style affluence in a local setting of poverty, Jane agrees that
working on the house was how I came to feel more comfortable here. This is our first proper home, although it's rented…I feel it's ours, so I've enjoyed getting Ikea curtain fabric in Islamabad…We live in a much more Western style than I had intended…Probably without realizing it, you end up with a dining table, a sofa, battery light system, hot water, and there you are. We're living in America again [laughs].
For Lyn, "Music, books, food is important to feel at home…I do think it's important to have somewhere that you feel comfortable and feel is home. Home is where we are alone together, and now that we've fixed [our home] up it's quite comfortable and suits us. Now we have power and water and hot water. It's luxurious."
The majority of my research participants imagine that their cultural refinement is partially reflected in these amenities — from expensive battery light systems to imported food to hand-stencilled borders — that distinguish Western homes from most Gilgiti households, which are frequently depicted as bereft of comfort, convenience, and delicious food. Generator-powered stoves and the loaves of bread Western women bake in them are thus signs of civility.
Most Western women are equally preoccupied with keeping their homes clean. They are often disgusted by the dust that blows into their houses every day, as were many middle-class white women in colonial India (Bush 2004; Fleming 1992; Hall 2004; Procida 2002). Overgeneralizing, Amanda "never thought that it could be so dirty here…I don't know why local people don't clean. I'm so upset about all the dust and these flies. I often wonder how these people can survive." Andy never knows "what dirt's going to make you sick, but you can try to minimize the risk. And you spend your whole life doing it here. When I cook for the [Western] children, I'm just paranoid about poisoning them. Honestly! I'm so careful with the food." Elena deals with the potential ill effects of dirt by "boiling water for twenty minutes and then filtering it. We wash our vegetables well. We're fanatical about cleanliness really…We went to visit one of our teachers in the hospital when she had a miscarriage. It was terrible, it was. The wards were filthy, and there was a cat lying on her bed! It was filthy and disgusting there."
This widespread aversion to dirt leads many of my research participants to be fixated on expunging all traces of the dust that constantly swirls through Gilgiti neighbourhoods. Even though Evelyn, as a notable exception, characterizes herself as the "worst housekeeper I've ever met who can't clean anything," Lyn is convinced that "Western hygiene and living standards are quite different, much higher…Most local accommodation is filthy…When you're on holiday, you can put up with almost anything. But when you actually have to live and work and spend three weeks in a dirty, grotty hole, it's a huge problem." Sustaining the clean self/dirty other dichotomy, Margaret agrees that "Westerners have a different notion of hygiene [than local people]. I mean, you have to create your own home living environment which you can identify with, be happy, comfortable and clean in. So we've bought some kitchen tables and high counters for chopping food, and we can have as many washes as we like." Perpetuating dominant imperial and class power relations, these women imply that a properly clean household reflects a civilized society, and within that implication lurks a bourgeois morality that equates cleanliness with cultural godliness.
When I asked Sarah how her life would change if she had to live like her Gilgiti neighbours, she, like Amanda and Margaret, associated a change in ways of living with a change in rituals of hygiene, with a turn toward domestic slovenliness: "It would be hard to change my lifestyle if had to keep house like the locals do…I don't think they ever clean their houses. They spit and throw water on the floor! I couldn't live like that unless I could bring along my Western ways of cleanliness. Sanitation hardly exists here. It's filthy and locals know it's filthy, but they just don't clean their homes." Once again, my research participants exercise discourses of race to position "dirty local culture" in a binary with "clean Western culture." This subordinating affiliation between dirtiness and Otherness is so strong that dirt takes on metonymical power; it symbolizes abject Others whose bodies and culture are potentially contaminating to Westerners. Western bourgeois rituals of domestic hygiene metaphorically purify and preserve white bodies from contamination in the cultural contact zone (Bush 2004; McClintock 1995). Western women's home cleaning practices thus constitute a form of imperial control that frustrates the possibility of moral, class, and racial degeneration by demarcating boundaries between racialized bodies and hierarchically arranged cultural groups. Moreover, the "whiteness" that results from gendered cleansing rituals racializes Western domestic spaces, and marks these homes as sites of cultural and moral superiority and as spaces of civilization within the larger cultural territory.
Many Western women may be threatened by the cultural and racial connotations of Gilgiti dirt, but they can be equally unnerved by a shortage of domestic privacy. Christine "wasn't prepared for this culture's lack of privacy. No matter how hard you try to tell somebody about it, until you experience it you can't understand the discomfort of it." Privacy, like cleaning and home renovating, is a way Western women can cultivate racial and cultural distance, although in this case detachment is more spatial than metaphorical. My research participants, especially those who live in buildings attached to a Gilgiti household, want their homes to be sequestered private spaces, respites from omnipresent local people. According to Fiona, "I wouldn't move in with somebody. Even when I say I miss having people to talk to, I like my own privacy, and I need my own place. I definitely wouldn't like communal-type living or sharing with somebody, especially a local person." Rose is "very welcome in with the family, but I'm too much a Westerner to stay the whole day around the stove being warm on the front and cold on the backside, with eight shouting children around you, grandmother who is more ill than well. You miss your privacy. So at the end of December, I had to leave." Rosemary has recently moved out of a family compound and into her own place: "Now I never feel that I'm under scrutiny. Sometimes the family that owns the house is on the roof or they're working on the terrace next door, but it doesn't feel like scrutiny anymore. They don't come in…It's a private haven. It's bliss." Those of my research participants who desire privacy reveal their need for a physical boundary that establishes space where they can be kept away from ever-present Others. This need to organize domestic space is interrelated with their desire figuratively to "own" property in Gilgit, as many of them do in middle-class neighbourhoods in metropolitan cities. In addition to physical space, privacy provides my research participants the emotional space to cultivate the "moral courage" they supposedly need to live among Gilgiti people.
To have privacy, as well as to respect it, is a further sign of civility and class respectability for many Western women in Gilgit. According to Christine,
When I didn't lock the door, [local people] would just come in, sit down, and stare at me… I wouldn't even have the indecency to walk into my daughter's house, unless she'd given me the key because she was going to be out. Here they can't understand that at all. They're not being mean, it's just their different way…They have no privacy. There are twenty-three of them living in that room over there. They eat, sleep, live, die, they do everything in that room together. They haven't got any proper sort of space…and the more children they have the less space they're going to have!
Jean supports Christine's narrow view of local people as lacking civility and decency by comparing them to refined, urbane Mongolians: "It will be a lot easier to be my Australian self in Mongolia, my next placement, because they're a sophisticated, multicultural, urban population that is accepting of other cultures and other ways of being. I'll have much more privacy there. Then you can be yourself. That instantly reaffirms who you are." Notions of civility merge with a bourgeois sensibility in the perception that culturally sophisticated people ignore what goes on behind closed doors, knock before entering a room, plan family size to allot an appropriate amount of home space to everyone, and distribute domestic space so that family members, especially parents and children, are kept a decent distance apart. Class, sexuality, and race intersect here, where civility encompasses sexual control as much as cultural decorum.
Hospitality is yet another facet of Western women's domestic management of imperialism in Gilgit. In Evelyn's description of an expatriate anniversary party, we see how white bourgeois civility, and thus racial difference, is cultivated through being a gracious hostess, once personified on North American cable television by Martha Stewart: "The other night Jane threw an anniversary party that was exquisite. She served smoked trout. Her husband fishes and he has a smoke house. So we had this fish, Moroccan lamb, strawberry coulisse on a cheesecake. It was outside, and she hung decorated kerosene lamps in the garden. It looked like something out of Martha Stewart. It was absolutely amazing." As it was in colonial times (Chaudhuri 1988; Hall 2004; MacMillan 1988; Procida 2002), being a gracious hostess to friends and visitors is a vital component of civilized Western homemaking in the cultural contact zone and of bourgeois women's domestic identity formation. René, for instance, understands herself as "a very relational person, always hostessing different parties, initiating dinners. I have a real interest in hospitality, getting friends together, cooking great food, initiating good conversations and fun, and pulling people out of their routine." Evelyn extends that hospitality to foreign visitors to Gilgit, as well as to friends: "We have dinners with our friends in town. But then there's times when people are in town for a short period of time. We invite them over for a nice meal, and then you may never see them again or you might see them only the next year for another dinner."
Playing the gracious hostess and attending dinner parties, therefore, constitute additional forms of class identity in the home for these married Western women. Moreover, hostessing is important to the domestic management of imperialism as a way to represent Western culture in an alien land. The efforts Abbie makes to recreate a Western Christmas celebration in Gilgit is a good example of this kind of cultural protectionism. She explains that "Christmas is a bit pitiful here, but we try. We find some branch for a tree, invite all our friends, and have a meal together. I save presents from home that I've hidden for months. You can buy a turkey in Islamabad, and, of course, you can have your potatoes and homemade bread and traditional things. It's quiet here, but we still sing Christmas carols." Roasting a turkey, decorating a tree, and singing carols, like hosting dinners, are social conventions that constitute civilized behaviour for Christian-influenced Westerners in Gilgit. Most women in this group use the word "hospitality" to evoke these refined performances. According to Jane, for example, "I've discovered that I enjoy cooking, making good food, having other foreigners over to nice dinners…I don't think I'll forget the importance of having an open home, of being the person to say 'Oh, why don't you stay for supper.' We can't loose that sense of hospitality and community." Other than Saturday night church dinners, Andy enjoys "organized parties. Of course there are enough VSOs for lots of birthdays to come around quite regularly. And then I invite people over a lot for dinner. That's a great kind of hospitality." Offering Western forms of hospitality, hostesses protect Western cultural traditions in Pakistan and sustain cultural exclusivity.3
Finally, most married Western women who are long-term residents in Gilgit labour to provide their families with a safe, healthy, and happy home environment — the Victorian domestic archetype — as part of their efforts at civility. Although Evelyn disrupts this archetype by depicting her home in Gilgit as yet another site of work and relationship anxiety, Sarah describes her homemaking endeavours as familial support measures: "It's important that I give support to my husband in his job by being at home for him — not only as his wife, but also as his friend and companion — and making a happy home, because the social life is so impoverished here…If you don't have a happy home in a place like this, it's then all work for him." Jane is most concerned about fashioning her home into a happy, ordered sanctuary for her son:
I longed to work, but I didn't want to leave my child with just anybody. He needed some discipline and structure, which he wouldn't get unless I was there…I also realized that my husband was working six days a week. So it was a huge adjustment to be homemaking all the time, but it's made everyone happier…I also realized these are my son's formative years, and I wanted to affect his view of "home." We've made a wonderful environment here for a child with all this space.
Not surprisingly, Western women's self-representations as happy homemakers contrast sharply with their portrayals of "dispirited" Gilgiti households. Rose tells a story about her host family's spousal relationship: "After dinner, Gulam's wife sat on the men's side of the room for some reason, and he started to touch her. She really had a reaction, being afraid of him. She went quickly to the women's side. I was impressed by the look in her eyes; it wasn't happy at all, just angry to be the breeding partner of the man and doing all the house work." Although Julia finds "that being in a large family here is very nourishing," Marion thinks "this extended family network thing is a problem. I hate to say it because it's such a cliché, but mother-in-laws are always a huge problem for local women…They have to tie in with what their mother-in-laws want and her way of doing things, which leads to a lot of domestic strife." Rosemary overgeneralizes and exaggerates to argue that "People go to the doctor just for the attention, particularly women. They get no attention. There's no touching or caring in the family. They're just things…So all the things we know people need, like touching, this culture denies them."
As these remarks show, my research participants commonly depict Gilgiti cultural practices and attitudes associated with domestic life — including extended family networks, spousal interactions, and rules about physical touching — as socially, physically, and emotionally destructive. In this cultural environment, they think, using an imperial frame of reference, that a comfortable, happy Western home is the primary front on which to battle this potentially "contaminating degeneracy." René is convinced, for instance, "that it is worth time, money, and energy to try to make yourself a comfortable home so that emotionally you don't get drawn down and you can manage life in Gilgit." For Abbie, "Gilgit happens at work, not in my house, and so when we go home we're by ourselves. It's a haven. And, you know, over the years we just keep doing more and more stuff to our house to make it a more comfortable and cheerful space." Making a happy home that wards off a regressive culture is a class-appropriate performance for these Western women. This social activity also maintains dominant gender, racial, and imperial relations by preserving Western homes as civilized spaces in a larger cultural wilderness.
In sum, the efforts undertaken by Western women in Gilgit to transform local rented houses into Western homes integrate discourses of gender, class, race, and imperialism. Creating a haven from an Other world through the cult of domesticity involves making "home" into an exclusionary space of cultural/racial belonging that incorporates reassuring bourgeois values, ideas, and norms of behaviour. Western homes in Gilgit are thus power-infused sites of the mutually constitutive processes of identity formation, socio-spatial organization, and boundary management. By means of gracious social rituals and rigid cleaning etiquette in the home, Western women maintain a white, feminine, bourgeois sense of self, which contrasts sharply with most of their representations of local domestic identities and practices. The continuous attempt to establish social difference through these oppositions further ensconces racial and class boundaries. Imperial power relations are inscribed in the space of home not only as my research participants etch Western cultural traditions, values, and concepts of space and identity on the wider social landscape in hierarchical fashion, but also as they conceive of their homes as sites of cultural/moral superiority in this cross-cultural setting.4 have access to chowkidar labour, they spend much of their non-working energy in reproductive activities. But servants are, and have traditionally been, perceived as a required luxury for privileged married Western women in (post)colonial settings — an indulgence most of them cannot afford at home — because they are often unable to cope with the countless hours of domestic work alone. Western women, who operate in the home in close physical proximity to servants, thus rely on Gilgiti labour (as opposed to that of other family members, especially their husbands'). However, this dependence and propinquity seldom guarantees that they will overcome their perceptions of Gilgiti people to narrow the social chasm that separates foreigners and locals. Rather, this group of research participants usually incorporates servants into the larger processes of racial exclusivity I have outlined above.
Based on the racial and class asymmetries that sustain white women's ability to issue demands to Gilgiti servants, these employers deploy Orientalist (Said 1978) representations of Gilgiti servants' lives to create and perpetuate absolute difference. They do so even when they seldom witness servants in their own surroundings or consider that domestics have reasons for concealing their thoughts and abilities from foreign employers as part of their "hidden transcripts" of resistance (Scott 1990). Invoking Marx's (1976, 125-154) labour theory of value, servants may be required for their use-value as domestic labourers, but their exchange-value is realized in their function as boundary markers who distinguish white from not-white, order from disorder, private sphere from public sphere, and civility from cultural decay. In this way, the work of affirming white women's middle-class identities in Western homes is relegated in important ways to poor Gilgiti domestics (Bush 2004; McClintock 1995; Stoler 1995). In addition to their function as boundary markers, servants are disciplined by Western women who supervise their labours and cultural improvement. This asymmetrical relationship in the domestic sphere contributes to Western women's imperial identities, (re)producing imperial power relations on a household scale.
Whether in colonial Africa, Indonesia, or South Asia, indigenous people who worked as servants for Western colonizers were variously described by their employers, using an ethnocentric rhetoric, as troublesome, unpredictable, primitive, inefficient, stupid, childlike, dirty, irresponsible, lazy, and alien (Barr 1976; Locher-Scholten 1998; MacMillan 1988; Paxton 1990; Procida 2002; Stoler 1995; Tranberg Hansen 1989, 1992). My research participants commonly (re)circulate these degrading representations to detail their servants' behaviours. For example, Jane describes her maidservant as inherently dim and untrustworthy:
I did have a lady work with me, doing the cooking and ironing. But she started stealing from us…I was irritated, but you have to try to understand how they perceive things. They're not able to view it from our perspective, because their experiences are narrow and they can't look at things from different angles. She hasn't had much education or seen much of the world. So she can't see things from my point of view, so I had to try to understand hers.
Without considering his motives or "hidden transcripts" (Scott 1990; see also Procida 2002, 101), René depicts her gardener as "incapable of thinking about cause and effect. He doesn't understand that if you tie a sheep up and its rope is 15 feet long and there are flowers planted 10 feet away, then the rope is going to allow the sheep to eat the flowers. He doesn't think that clearly, you see, he hasn't learned that critical thinking skill." Besides the "day and night chowkidar and the house boy that comes during the daytime to do all the cleaning and make the breakfast and lunch," Janneke employs a "cook who prepares the evening meal. I had to teach him to 'unlearn' using spices because I can't eat curry…Very gradually he learned the house rules…My house personnel have made me see the mentality of the Muslim culture, which is quite different than my own. Every action is done thoughtlessly, in the name of Allah and tradition." Amanda sustains this portrait of supposedly inept and childlike Gilgiti servants: "I have a cleaning lady, but I'm disturbed when she's around, always asking questions. I'm not her mother. So she only comes a few times a week. Such a difference in how she cleans! I have to always tell her everything."
Evelyn offers some opposition to these hegemonic, subjugating representations of Gilgiti servants by reversing the disciplinary gaze and contemplating the minutiae and global context of her servant's life. In an effort to understand how her servants view her as a Westerner and an employer, Evelyn explains that she is not
one of these people who can keep a million balls in the air. One ball and I start moaning. So, this is a clear picture to the people who work for me. I have somebody to clean my house, somebody taking care of my kid until 4:00 pm, there's a gardener outside, and I'm still moaning around them. I don't really have their skills and experience, and I don't really have a lot of tolerance for huge obligations here. So I've learned in a context where people are taking care of me that I can emotionally afford to be taken care of. What will they think of me?
With her son's ayah 5 in mind, she recognizes how
extraordinarily privileged I am to know there is food in the cupboard, I have Rs.1000 [$38 Cnd] in my wallet, and if my kid gets sick he gets a helicopter lift out of here. My neighbour's six-month old boy got sick. He died. And she was at my house working. She takes care of my son, even when he was very ill. My child should have died, and he's alive. Her child had pneumonia. He should still be here, but he's gone…I feel sick when I talk about things like that. I don't deserve this luck, it's an accident of birth that I was born in Canada…But so many people here have so much asked of them, and really so little has been asked of me…They were born in the wrong place and got invaded by the wrong people, and it all got screwed from the very beginning. Colonialism has 99 percent of what is happening here to answer for.
Evelyn's remarks position privileged Westerners in Gilgit as colonial beneficiaries and grant servants individuality, humanity, and competence, thereby providing some new discursive terrain upon which to build less hierarchical relationships with Gilgiti people.
Despite this important disruption, Western women's overwhelmingly Orientalist representations of their Gilgiti servants serve to flatten out locals, to reduce this variegated group of people to an indistinguishable mass of incompetents. My research participants' ability to homogenize their domestics is founded on their "positional superiority" (Said 1978, 7), on the relative upper hand they wield in situations where domestic labour remains largely invisible, economic means are inequitably distributed, and discursive authority is uneven. The abiding issue is the process of making difference, specifically the hierarchical "us" versus "them" division based on class and racial perceptions. Western women frequently draw on Orientalist discourses to constitute servants as immutably different, as a class whose thought processes, needs, and problems are radically unlike those of their employers.
Three salient practices of homemaking are infused with these social constructions of difference. First, by equating Gilgiti servants with mentally inferior children, my research participants legitimate and provide the moral justification for their imperial practices of employee surveillance, including "policies of tutelage, discipline, and specific maternalistic strategies of custodial control" (Stoler 1995, 150). According to Western employers, if "immature" Others do not have the wherewithal to comprehend a foreigner's way of life, then they must be kept under constant supervision and taught how to cook, serve, and dress in a fashion that befits a Western home. René, for instance, gets "frustrated with local people whom we're trying to get to do a particular job in our home. They just don't understand, or they don't care, I don't know what it is…I have to micro-manage so much because these people seem incapable of independently doing something." Amanda is disheartened by "the cleaning lady" who is "always around with the suffering face. The washing powder box was empty, so she sat there on the steps of the sleeping room, the box hanging from her hand, with the face suffering. And I asked her, 'What's the problem? I'll give you money and you can buy some more, or I'll send the chowkidar.' I have to guide everything for her." Speaking about the man she has hired to clean her floors, Marion complains that "unless we are here to supervise him, he really doesn't know how to do it. He doesn't have any idea that when you wipe things down with a damp cloth you don't do it with a filthy, filthy, filthy dirty cloth. So as long as someone is here to oversee him, he's fine. But he never seems to learn to do it by himself." By fabricating an amorphous group of radically different Others who require direct and constant guidance in their domestic duties, Western women justify their imperial discipline of servants as they attempt to teach them Western ways.
Second, regarding tutelage, Rose has tried to prevent her host family's chowkidar and his family from "breaking their teeth on these improperly stored dried apricots. I soaked them one night, cooked them for the family. In five minutes it was finished, they liked it so much. But they didn't copy me, but continued to eat the dirty, dry apricots. I made raisin bread. In 5 minutes it was finished too. And then I told them how to do this. They have all the stuff, but they can't do it." Here Rose exemplifies how, as maternal figures, Western women often try to improve servants' lives based on representations of difference. The naturalized dichotomy "primitive indigenous labourers/civilized white mothers" makes Western women feel responsible for their servants' protection, health care, and social uplift. Although Margaret does not employ a servant, her landlord's gardener grows food for her, and thus provides her a chance to enhance local diets: "We brought back good seeds from England…The gardener mixed the seeds in with their chard. But he fed half of it to the goats…We took some beet root to him, to improve his family's diet, but he had one bite and made a face. It wasn't that he didn't like it, it's just that it was a new food, and he wasn't prepared to allow himself to improve his diet." Amanda hopes to teach her maidservant how to be more "human" by providing her with proper health care: "The cleaning lady, she is always sick. This past time it was a stomach problem. Now she brought us a big bill about abortion. I don't know if it's a miscarriage or an abortion…We always pay the bills when the servants are sick, to show what it is to be humane, but I don't know why they are sick so often." Similarly, as René depicts her chowkidars as "wretched" people with "very sad lives they can do nothing about," she focuses "on small ways to help so I don't get overwhelmed. You try to help in every situation that arises, like showing them how to be generous by giving them time off when they're sick and paying their medical bills. It's an emergency, it's unplanned, and they don't have the funds for it. So we just have to be a generous example." By teaching servants through "example" how to think, work, and interact socially in a principled, "logical" fashion, my research participants hope to spread Western culture, including "appropriate" values, from their homes to local households; they anticipate that their employees will take that knowledge back to their private lives to improve indigenous culture.
This diffusion of Western culture through the labour process serves to bolster imperial power. By disciplining servants to keep them under control and to convert them into a metropolitan prototype, Western women propagate an imperial logic in domestic miniature. Although the ideal is seldom realized by Westerners no matter where they live, most Western employers understand their Gilgiti homes as models of care and equitable spousal relationships for their domestics, as places where husbands and wives supposedly eat, socialize, work, and raise a family together. In so doing, they present a nuclear, monogamous family structure as the 'ideal' organization of home. Following an ethnocentric logic that grants them the licence to be judgmental, these women hope to transplant this ideal into Gilgiti households via their servants to free Gilgiti women from purdah, "base" conceptions of love,6 and "oppressive" extended families that include threatening mother-in-laws and, on occasion, second wives.
Third, Western women's representations of Gilgiti domestics as an indistinguishable mass of children impede most attempts to see servants as people with rich lives and specific desires of their own. The amorphousness of servants is so pronounced for a couple of my research participants that they never ask their servants' names or they refer to servants using imposed European names. For example, even though two years have passed since Amanda hired a "cleaning lady," she still has not asked the maidservant's name, let alone inquired as to where she lives or how many children she has. And Esra, who hires a Gilgiti restauranteur on occasion to cook, serve, and tidy up at Western parties held in her garden, calls him "Oscar" as an European corollary to "Asgar." As Edward Said (1978) has observed, the power to individuate, or not, is associated with the power to name. Naming is infused with power, because ignoring Gilgiti servants' names or conferring European names and associations on them is tantamount to denying them a self-designated identity and individuality.
As Western women adopt Orientalist discourses to treat their servants as incompetent inferiors, they deny their domestics' individuality, justify employee surveillance, and fortify imperial power. Moreover, Gilgiti servants are symbolically neutered when they are depicted by their employers as children, making them less threatening to Western women. Yet despite the unjust effects of these domestic practices of power, disruptions to dominant social relations in the home are also enabled through this labour process. First, contemporary civilizing efforts within the home are predicated on my research participants' assumption that Gilgiti servants can respond to cultural improvement initiatives to become more cultivated than they were before metropolitan contact. In other words, for Western women's domestic mission to work, servants must be seen to have a mutable identity, if not a sovereign individuality, which poses a challenge to discourses of Orientalism and imperialism. Second, when my research participants play mother to their servants as middle-class tutors of "generosity" and "humaneness," they incorporate a class-based superiority with a race-based authority. In this instance, they may sometimes perceive domestics more as a different class than as a different race of people. This discursive blending can unsettle the racial foundation of imperial practices by disrupting its justification; if servants are not always already inferior childlike Others, but are at times simply from a different, labouring class, then the civilizing mission is partially undermined. I am not arguing that my research participants' intermittent perceptions of Gilgiti servants as a different class, rather than a different race, guarantees anything like a reciprocal relationship with Gilgiti Others. However, by disrupting the justification of "civilizing" imperial agendas, shifting perceptions of class and race can throw into question the concept of the civilizing self and hegemonic constructions of the "primitive" racialized Other.
At this point I want to turn to the spatial organization of home to examine briefly the distribution of household space between Western women employers and their Gilgiti servants and the consequences of those spatial divisions. During "deep hanging out" (Geertz 2001) sessions in my research participants' homes, I noticed their spatial anxiety toward servants. Jane chose a distant working space once she knew where the ayah and cook had settled in to perform their chores. Amanda was fidgety when the guard, chowkidar, or "cleaning lady" was in the house. If she did not wake in time to be out before Safina arrived, then Amanda would try to avoid contact with her until a jeep was free for a trip somewhere else. Although Western women usually try to keep some distance between themselves and Gilgiti people, they have little choice but to have close physical contact with servants at home, especially with the ayahs who help raise their children. As it did in the colonial era (Bush 2004; Hall 2004; Procida 2002), this spatial proximity to employees disrupts Western women's efforts to achieve racial exclusivity. To reinforce a separation, my research participants often intensify their surveillance of "incapable" servants. Despite the disciplinary authority that is experienced through unwavering supervision, this spatial closeness continues to disturb most Western employers. For instance, in a conversation that made me wonder why she ever decided to hire a servant, Amanda complains that "even when [Safina] is in the other room, this is too much for me. I want to be alone, but these [servants] don't understand. And then you get aggressive, and then they don't know what happened. But I don't want to be disturbed always when I'm sitting there doing something. 'Madame, madame'…She's always here, so I always have to behave so well." Even though she only comes a few times a week, Amanda experiences Safina as a constant, exaggerated presence in the house, a presence that frustrates her freedom to pursue indulgent whims and idiosyncrasies, such as walking around naked on hot days, wearing shorts, drinking alcohol before noon, and working all night. Her anxiety echoes that of Edith Cuthell, who in 1905 wrote, "The extraordinary lives we lead…unravel themselves like a ceaseless play before the unwavering eyes of our dependents" (as quoted in Procida 2002, 67). When servants are perceived as omnipresent nuisances who restrict Western women's lifestyles, they are experienced as dominant, controlling forces that need to be resisted. Amanda's experience is also reminiscent of white racism in Canada that confuses power flows by calling affirmative action hiring policies "reverse discrimination," as if the hiring of people from minority ethnic groups and their daily presence in Canadian workplaces is an oppressive pressure that unfairly victimizes white workers. Therefore, while domestics are valued by my research participants for their labour, they are also feared at times for the ostensible constraints their presences place over Western lives.
The living, as well as working, location of servants is another instance of the racialized division of household space. Most chowkidars live on or near the property, but are expected to enter the inner sanctum of the house only when they have indoor work to complete. As in Amanda's case, Esra's chowkidar lives in a hut near the front gate: "I was so lucky with my first chowkidar. He was so nice. He respected me and never tried to come in or look through the windows into the house. He was happy to live outside, in a small guard house in the garden.7 I never felt uncomfortable with him there, not once. But if it was somebody else, I wouldn't be comfortable." Although Jane's sense of propriety makes non-familial men unwelcome in her home, her "manservant doesn't count because he just lives here [laughs]. He's OK. He works, but he also keeps me honourable when my husband's away. That's part of the reason why we have him. We built him a room onto our house. He does his own cooking, lives alone, he's more comfortable that way I think, and then he only has to come inside to work." The notion that Western and servant lives should remain spatially distant even within a situation of intimacy suffuses these comments. I interpret this as an expression of my research participants' concern that intimate relationships with racialized Gilgitis in the home can be a further source of cultural contamination.
This racism is undercut by discourses of class that are exercised by non-employer volunteers to disassociate themselves from what they perceive as imperial Western employers. Most of these volunteers explain the division between themselves and long-term expatriates not only as a result of religious ideology, but also as a consequence of class practices. For example, Andy concludes that the social cleavage between Westerners in Gilgit "is a mixture of things. To be 100 percent honest, the groups are quite divided because VSOs come out here earning nothing and the other families do have big salaries. Many of us struggle with that…There is a class difference that revolves here around who has servants and who doesn't." Elena has little "to do with the other, non-VSO expats, really. It's always been a bit of a divide…It could be because of their church, or it could be that we're not earning big money and they sort of see us as different. It's odd. You wouldn't say we're all part of an expat community. There's a VSO community and then there's the monied expats." Louise agrees that "there's definitely a Western divide. I mean, I can't invite Evelyn here, I can't offer her a beer or a fancy meal. She can come and have subzi [vegetables], she can come and sit on the floor and eat hoi [cooked spinach]…I've been to a couple of parties at her house, and there's fantastic food, a chowkidar, a cook. You know, we're worlds apart!" According to these volunteers, the Western class hierarchy is established on the basis of the quality of their food and homes, their salaries, the status and income of their spouses, and whether or not foreign households include servants.
Next to how monied one is, volunteers are most sensitive to and critical of the practice of hiring Gilgitis to do Western domestic labour. Susan still finds it difficult "to accept our landlord's chowkidar…Expats say 'Oh, he'll go to the bazaar for you, clean for you, cook for you.' NO THANK YOU! The idea of having a servant is alien. I know the British probably imposed it in the first place, but that's quite strange…There are things that I've said no about, like being waited on hand and foot." Andy's Western "friend has a gardener here, and I rib him the whole time about this. 'He's one of your servants. Send your servant IT around for me.' It's so colonial." Margaret is "not into the expat scene…These people haven't left home. There's a compound, they're living in it with lots of servants, mixing only with Western people. And that's not why I'm here. It's not good, not necessary to be so colonial." And when Louise sees "the houses of the expats and their big fancy cars, servants, swimming pools," she thinks
'Oh god, look at this message'…It's incredibly embarrassing, but I think, honestly that's part of colonial history…They're reinforcing that image that all Westerners are colonials with loads of money to throw around…I think that's offensive, I really do. To be working for a development agency and living in such fancy accommodations. It doesn't seem to go together. I just wonder if British Council donors know that's how their money's being spent.
VSOs accuse salaried Westerners of perpetuating colonial practices through the unequal, neo-colonial labour relationship they have with Gilgitis, as well as through conspicuous differences in levels of quality of life.
Volunteers — who do most of their own cooking, cleaning, washing, shopping, and fetching — can act as disruptive forces in this once-colonized setting where white women have traditionally had servants to do this work. Their different class relation to Gilgitis as non-employers who maintain far less decadent and "cultivated" homes than salaried Westerners blurs some of the racial boundaries forged through the domestic middle-class representations and practices I have discussed. By doing domestic work themselves, even when they could afford to hire a Gilgiti person to do it, VSOs destabilize dominant racial relations together with the imperial legitimacy that depends on them. Anti-racist impulses are also kindled when volunteers perceive indigenous class stratifications, which involve Westerners, as similar to what they know at home. Andy, for instance, claims that there are "very central ideas around here, much like at home, about who's the labourer, who's the educated person, and who's the guy who's made good. Like Iqbal, local people don't respect him even though he's a tour guide because he's still illiterate. So there's a big class system here too, and expats move into it at a tangent to the general strata, to the local class hierarchy." By acknowledging that Westerners and Gilgitis operate within similar class systems, sometimes simultaneously, Andy assumes a sense of social solidarity with Gilgiti society based on class relations, a sense of solidarity that may affect perceptions of racial difference and imperial legitimacy, because, as I have demonstrated, discourses of class, race, Orientalism, and imperialism so closely articulate in Gilgit.(2001). This project remains necessary, as my colleague reveals, as a response to dominant gender myths circulating in many recent mainstream analyses that continue implicitly to characterize globalization as a "genderless" phenomenon. However, as I demonstrate using detailed ethnographic data, gender relations significantly influence global processes — in this instance twenty-first century cultural imperialism — as they are simultaneously (re)shaped by those very same processes.
In my analysis I focussed on Western women development workers living in northern Pakistan, particularly on their performances of imperial domesticity that are a remodelled legacy of the colonial era. As they fashion Western homes in Gilgit through gendered, racialized, and classed practices and identities, they reproduce imperial power relations on a household scale. And, in turn, the significance of that imperial domesticity escapes the boundaries of home to (re)constitute empire in the current global moment. In so doing I have emphasized that, rather than simply reflecting global imperial relations, Western women's domestic practices in fact constitute those relations. As racial and cultural boundaries are forged in imperial Western homes, domestic spaces become salient sites of social exclusion, as well as of identity formation and cultural belonging.
Imperial domesticity is achieved in two main ways, through the domestic governance of self and servant. The significance of making and managing civilized homes in Gilgit to my research participants' identities — which we see in their struggles to appoint their homes with refined amenities, keep those homes clean, create and maintain domestic privacy, and provide hospitality — show how important it is for Western women to manage their own appropriate behaviours in the home. They are also careful to manage their hired domestic labour. By equating Gilgiti servants with mentally inferior children, feeling responsible for their protection, health care, and social uplift, failing to view servants as valuable individuals with rich lives and specific desires, and spatially regulating their movements within the home, Western women legitimate and provide the moral justification for imperial practices of employee surveillance, discipline, control, and conversion. Both sites of governmentality maintain Western domestic superiority, which bolsters the success of imperial power through intersecting gender, race, and class relations.
As more scholars engage with this kind of analysis of the gendered nature of globalization and read more widely in the feminist literature on globalization, we can accomplish two important and necessary goals. First, we can develop fuller and thus improved understandings of what globalization is, how it affects people's lives, and how people's lives affect it. And second, once we achieve the first goal we have more precise knowledge with which to judge and manipulate both the positive and negative consequences of global processes.
1. Only one woman refused to participate, and I missed four others who were either out of the country for the summer or remained unknown to me until the last minute.
2. Mary Procida (2002, 63) outlines the dominant and contrasting representations of expatriate and indigenous homes in colonial India. Closed, cramped, uncomfortable and squalid Indian residences, the "breeding grounds for moral and physical corruption," were distinguished from the open, cozy, and sanitary expatriate living conditions that allotted the "proper" amount of household space to each occupant.
3. The predominant form of Western hospitality — inviting people to enjoy a home-cooked meal — hardly differs from the primary local form. However, indigenous performances of hospitality are often not understood by Western women as cultivated, most often, I believe, because of the type of food served, but also because many Gilgiti women are heard but not seen at the dinner table due to purdah restrictions. Most of my research participants feel uncomfortable eating with men in a sexually segregated domestic setting. Some imagine oppressed Muslim women slaving in the kitchen and eating rummaged dinner leftovers.
4. Many VSOs could afford to hire servants if they chose to channel their money there rather than toward travel, household amenities, and imported food, because servants receive exceedingly low wages. For example, Lyn and Marion considered hiring a Gilgiti woman to clean, but decided against it once they perceived Gilgit to be a place, unlike Vietnam and Africa, where Gilgiti people do not commonly employ servants. Money is apparently not the issue: "If we earn Rs. 7000 [$132 Cnd] a month and we can live on Rs. 5000 [$94 Cnd], then I'd rather that a servant earned that Rs. 2000 [$38 Cnd]. I don't want to give it away, but I would rather that someone else earned it. But it's still not part of the culture here." Despite their perception that employing servants is an unconventional indigenous cultural practice, Lyn and Marion have hired a man to come in now and again to wash their floors.
5. Ayah is the Urdu word for nanny.
6. See Parry (1976) for an analysis of what are now termed Orientalist discourses that juxtapose a supposedly base and solely physical "Eastern" love in arranged marriages with an ostensibly virtuous "Western" love that engenders the finer feelings of protection and care with no thought of reward.