Public Life, Imaginary, and Identity in Contemporary Italian Film
Edited By Giancarlo Lombardi and Christian Uva
Áine O’Healy - Bound to Care: Gender, Affect, and Immigrant Labour
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Still capture from Mar Nero, by Federico Bondi (Film Kairos, Rai Cinema, HiFilm, Manigolda Film)
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Bound to Care: Gender, Affect, and Immigrant Labour
Over the past ten years the figure of the foreign-born domestic worker or care provider has appeared with increasing frequency in Italian feature films, referencing a growing tendency among Italian families to employ immigrants to assist with the functioning of their everyday lives. The emergence of this figure can be linked to a nexus of social and political issues that include the feminisation of migration flows to Italy, the gendered and racialised hierarchies operating within Italy’s contemporary neo-colonial workforce, the abandonment of traditional, multigenerational living arrangements, the presumed emancipation of Italian women that has prompted larger numbers than before to join the formal workforce, and the corresponding material and affective lacunae created within Italy’s rapidly aging households. Rarely achieving prominence in the films’ narrative economy, the migrant domestic worker (almost always presented as a woman) is nonetheless a crucial component of cinema’s engagement with the growing presence of migrant labourers in the Italian workforce, and specifically with the anxieties that have accompanied the insertion of the migrant labourer into the intimate space of Italian domestic life. Although not ostensibly driven by a commitment to political critique, such films offer complex engagements with the fraught discourses of globalisation, xenophobia and racism currently circulating in Italian society.
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