WGS Research Seminar with Kiran Mirchandani

‘Don’t Take Calls, Make Contact’: Legitimizing Racist Abuse in Transnational Service Work

Date: January 25, 2012
Time: 3-5 p.m.
Speaker: Kiran Mirchandani
Location: Wilson Hall, Rm 2053


Based on one hundred interviews with workers at call centers in Bangalore, Delhi and Pune over the past decade, I argue that transnational service work provides the landscape for the re-inscription and daily, commonplace exercise of hierarchy between national subjects. Call centers in India are sites of colonial domination, patriarchal reification, identity construction, worker resistance, management control and racist expression – occurring simultaneously – through overt work processes and normative subtexts in place. In these sites, workers negotiate these relations in their daily lives and perform invisible yet vital “authenticity work” in order to hold the tension between diverse and divergent forces. The unique position of transnational customer service workers, which makes them an emerging touchstone of globalization, rests in their location on the multiple borders of class, nation and production.

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