Maid to serve: 'Self-fashioning' and the domestic worker trope in contemporary South Africa

SOURCE: Journal of African Media Studies
OUTPUT TYPE: Journal Article
PUBLICATION YEAR: 2016
TITLE AUTHOR(S): A.Mahali
KEYWORDS: DOMESTIC WORKERS
Print: HSRC Library: shelf number 9684
HANDLE: 20.500.11910/10830
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11910/10830

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Abstract

This article investigates how the domestic worker sartorial trope is reflected and embodied in contemporary South African culture. Domestic work has received very little public or media attention from feminists, trade unionists, or even political activists broadly until the recent movement of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF). This article observes how the South African political party, the EFF, use the domestic worker dress as a subversionary tactic in sociopolitical culture. By appropriating the archetypal domestic worker dress, the EFF demonstrate both identification with the domestic worker and a subversion of what the domestic worker dress has, for so long, inferred. In the context of post-apartheid South Africa, the author examines the domestic worker trope and the significance of dress. This article uses critical discourse analysis and Pierre Bourdieu' s theory of habitus to explicate both the personal and political significance of the domestic worker dress in contemporary South Africa.