"ENOUGH IS ENOUGH":
DOMESTIC SERVICE IN LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN
Edited by Elsa M. Chaney and Mary Garcia Castro
This book is the first collection put together on the theme of domestic
service. Very little published material exists, and it is scattered in
journals, some of which are difficult of access for both English-speaking
and Latin audiences.
Far from disappearing as had been predicted, domestic service still
employs great numbers of poor women, and worldwide is the typical first job
of young women migrants to the cities. It is estimated that one-fifth to
one-fourth of women in the labor force of Latin America and the Caribbean
work as domestic servants. Yet the employment still is largely unregulated
and unorganized, and the work itself is "invisible" not only to policymakers,
but even to women of other classes: professionals, scholars, feminists.
The proposed collection treats many aspects of domestic service, yes-
terday and today. The collection begins with an introductory essay by the
editors, and there are three strong historical pieces covering Hispanic America,
Brazil and the Caribbean. There is a piece on the image of the domestic servant
in the "photo-novel," a popular diversion of the poorer classes in Latin
Continental countries of South America are represented by articles,
all based on survey research, from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Peru
and Uruguay. There are articles on Middle America, including Cuba, Dominican
Republic, Nicaragua and Mexico. The Caribbean is represented by an article
on West Indian domestics in New York City. Several of these studies deal
not only with the life and work of domestic servants, but of their efforts
to organize and the groups that are working in solidarity with them.
The book concludes with a bibliography prepared by Margo Lane Smith
on domestic service (containing many articles not cited in the above studies);
a directory of national groups and associations of household workers and
groups working with them, and a final section, again written by the editors,
with conclusions and recommendations.
This book will be useful not only in Latin American courses in depart-
ments of anthropology, sociology, political science and economics, but also
in women's studies programs. We also anticipate that it will be of interest
to the women in development community, i.e., persons and organizations working
in collaboration with Third World Women (there were some 700 registrants at
the recent Association for Women in Development conference in Washington, D.C.
in May; many of these are interested in women's work in the urban areas, parti-
cularly the plight of poor women who head their own households). We also anti-
cipate interest in the volume on the part of feminist organizations.
DOMESTIC SERVICE -- Page 2
To our knowledge, no other book-length treatment of domestic service in
Latin America and the Caribbean exists, a surprising situation considering the
large numbers of women who work as household servants and who are counted in
the formal labor force. There is one book that has been published recently by
Praeger Special Studies, Sellers and Servants: Women Working in Lima, by Ximena
Bunster and Elsa M. Chaney. There are several small studies in Spanish, but
these do not go beyond 80-100 pages, and are not based on research.
We presently are at the stage of editing and translation; with only one
exception, all the articles are in hand (see pages attached). Nearly all
have undergone extensive and detailed editing, and many were returned to the
authors for rewrite. We are following a style-sheet drawn up by the editors,
based loosely on the Chicago Manual of Style. All the articles will follow
the same scheme for punctuation, capitalization and format. We are using
the name/year (Chaney and Garcia 1986: 73-74) method of citation, and plan to
include only one general bibliography of cited sources to avoid the repetition
of book and journal titles. The articles are being put on a word processor,
and will be delivered to a publisher in clean, readable form (and can be re-
formatted according to the publisher's specifications). We have received a
small grant from the Ford Foundation for this work.
As nearly as we can calculate now, the book will run 550-600 double-
spaced (8 1/2 x 11) pages.
Elsa M. Chaney
Mary Garcia Castro
7215 Windsor Lane
Hyattsville, Md. 20782