Sri Lankan Men Working as Cleaners and Carers: Negotiating Masculinity in Naples

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Drawing on an intersectional approach, the article examines how Sri Lankan domestic workers’ masculinities are constructed and negotiated in conjunction with race and ethnicity by Neapolitan employers and the male domestic workers themselves. The article discusses how Neapolitan employers construct Sri Lankan masculinity as effeminate, asexual, and unthreatening and how these Sri Lankan men themselves strategically exploit these stereotypes in gaining access to jobs that are socially constructed as women’s work. However, in relation to their own community and families, and quite contrary to the Neapolitan employers’ stereotypes, Sri Lankan men negotiate rather hegemonic and traditional notions of masculinity. The article draws on ethnographic research conducted in Naples including participant observation within the Sri Lankan community and in-depth interviews with Sri Lankan male and female
domestic workers, as well as with Neapolitan employers of Sri Lankan male domestic workers. By looking at the experiences of these migrant men, the article contributes to the understanding of how intersectional categories work in different and often contradictory ways in the everyday negotiations of subjectivities. The article draws our attention to how racial and ethnic differences can be strategically deployed by the members of a specific group. It also concludes that there is no fixed notion of Sri Lankan masculinity. Rather, it is contextualized and constructed quite differently by Neapolitan employers and Sri Lankan men themselves.

Translated title of the contributionSrilankalaiset miehet siivojan ja hoitajan työssä: Neuvoteltu maskuliinisuus Napolissa
Original languageEnglish
JournalMen and Masculinities
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)65-86
Number of pages21
Publication statusPublished - 25 Sep 2010
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 514 Sociology

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