Ingenious Citizenship: Recrafting Democracy for Social Change
Chapter 2 investigates how the dissident work practices of migrant domestic workers can be understood as deploying hidden tactics vis-à-vis their employers to appropriate the political script of liberal citizenship. It argues that these accounts of creative resistance are absent in the recent work of the critical philosopher Giorgio Agamben, whose influential notion of “bare life” invisibilizes the ingenious agency of abject subjects. The chapter looks at how migrant domestic workers re-create their own spaces of inclusion and “rights” within the working households and produce traces of social change even in the midst of their abject conditions. Crucially, these tactics of ingenious citizenship signal the lesson that domestic workers’ movements also need to work within their own given limits in varying contexts and locations and enact politics in fluid and inventive ways in order to generate and expand nonexistent rights for their constituents.