Informations and abstract
In recent years there has been a substantial increase in demand for private domestic services in Italy. This demand is mainly fulfilled by migrant - often undocumented - women working in the informal sector. This article aims to explore the interplay of gender and "race" in the discursive construction of work relations in the domestic service sector. This analysis is based on ethnographic fieldwork (interviews and participant observation) carried out in several recruitment and training centres for migrant domestic workers in the town of Genoa. Ideas of "tradition", "cultural authenticity" and "cultural difference", as well as "femininity", are embedded and negotiated in daily recruitment and training practises. On the one hand, domestic work is constructed by both trainers and recruiters in relation to the idea of migrant women's "cultural predisposition" to take on caring roles. At the same time, national identities are constructed in terms of family ties or domestic service relations. On the other hand, in their interactions with Italian recruiters, trainers and employers, migrant women challenge these racialising representations of domestic work relations. In some cases, they manipulate and display certain elements of these representations in order to obtain a job.