Secluded lives: restricted urban practices of migrant domestic and care workers in Istanbul

Tuncer, Ezgi and Eren Benlisoy, Zeynep Ceren (2022) Secluded lives: restricted urban practices of migrant domestic and care workers in Istanbul. Disegnarecon, 15 (28). ISSN 1828-5961

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Our research investigates the gendered processes of labour migration of domestic and care workers (MDWs), along with their experiences of urban life in Istanbul. As an interdisciplinary urban study in concordance with ethnographic methodologies, it further focuses on gendered drivers of migration: the home, work, and social urban environments of MDWs. The significance of our study is that it contributes to analyses of Global South–South female labour migration from a gender perspective, which has emerged as a relatively new and burgeoning field in migration studies. It is also significant in that it reveals how gender inequalities are spatialised. This is done by representing the city through the digital mapping of anonymous information from MDWs concerning their use of Istanbul. Our findings state that the urban practices of MDWs are highly limited and restricted by patriarchal family structures, either remote husbands or transnational communities. The fear of being a foreign woman in Istanbul, language barriers, illegal status, and the expensive costs of socialising outdoors restricted their urban social lives as well. Furthermore, the host community sometimes stigmatises foreign women as “easily exploited”, thus, most were exposed to verbal, physical, and/or sexual harassment in public spaces, which caused women to lead secluded lives. Fearing male violence, which is widespread in Turkey, they censor themselves. In this sense, gender inequalities seem to be spatialised; this can be traced through Google My Maps based on the subjective urban narratives of MDWs. It represents how urban policies remain insufficient in responding to feminised labour migration.
Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: female migrant domestic and care workers; Istanbul; restricted urban practices; secluded lives; spatial-ethnography
Divisions: Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Depositing User: Zeynep Ceren Eren Benlisoy
Date Deposited: 05 Aug 2023 14:00
Last Modified: 05 Aug 2023 14:00

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