Neutral Accent: How Language, Labor, and Life Become Global
A. Aneesh is Director of the Institute of World Affairs and Associate Professor of Sociology and Global Studies at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. He is the author of Virtual Migration: the Programming of Globalization, also published by Duke University Press.
In Neutral Accent, A. Aneesh employs India's call centers as useful sites for studying global change. The horizon of global economic shift, the consequences of global integration, and the ways in which call center work "neutralizes" racial, ethnic, and national identities become visible from the confines of their cubicles. In his interviews with call service workers and in his own work in a call center in the high tech metropolis of Gurgoan, India, Aneesh observed the difficulties these workers face in bridging cultures, laws, and economies: having to speak in an accent that does not betray their ethnicity, location, or social background; learning foreign social norms; and working graveyard shifts to accommodate international customers. Call center work is cast as independent of place, space, and time, and its neutrality—which Aneesh defines as indifference to difference—has become normal business practice in a global economy. The work of call center employees in the globally integrated marketplace comes at a cost, however, as they become disconnected from the local interactions and personal relationships that make their lives anything but neutral.
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