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Sri Lankan Housemaids in Lebanon A Case of 'Symbolic Violence' and 'Everyday Forms of Resistance' by Nayla Moukarbel

Sri Lankan Housemaids in Lebanon A Case of 'Symbolic Violence' and 'Everyday Forms of Resistance'

Part of the IMISCOE Dissertations Series


Sri Lankan Housemaids in Lebanon A Case of 'Symbolic Violence' and 'Everyday Forms of Resistance' by Nayla Moukarbel

Unraveled in this book are the real dynamics at stake in the Madame/housemaid relationship. While cases of extreme physical abuse by the Lebanese women who hire housemaids - Madames - are an exception, what has become normalised are more insidious patterns of domination used to control each and every aspect of their employees' lives. For their part, Sri Lankan housemaids are not merely passive victims. Away from direct provocation and first-hand repercussions, they try to deflect what Pierre Bourdieu has called 'symbolic violence'. These attempts at 'everyday forms of resistance', as defined by James Scott, can help loosen their employers' grip. Yet, as this unprecedented study shows, the Madame/housemaid relationship and the rules that govern it remain under the managerial hold of the Madame.


-This thought-provoking and reflexive book on Sri Lankan domestic workers in Lebanon successfully avoids both tales of victimhood and celebrations of agency. Nayla Moukarbel makes important new theoretical contributions on relations between domestic workers and their employers, highlighting the importance of geographical, temporal and cultural specificities. She also provides new empirical data: not only on the working and living conditions of domestic workers, but from embassy interviews with employers of runaways, dinner party conversations between employers and experiences in detention centres. In short, this book is just what research should be: reflexive, empirically grounded and theoretically sophisticated.? - Bridget Anderson, Senior Researcher, Centre on Migration, Policy and Society University of Oxford[-]

About the Author

Nayla Moukarbel completed her PhD in Migration Studies at the University of Sussex in 2007. She has a background in sociology, having obtained a BA from the American University of Beirut and a Ma?trise from the Sorbonne University in Paris.[-]

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Book Info

Publication date

15th November 2008


Nayla Moukarbel

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Amsterdam University Press


250 pages


Migration, immigration & emigration
Public administration



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