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Colonialism and Male Domestic Service across the Asia Pacific
Bloomsbury Academic

Colonialism and Male Domestic Service across the Asia Pacific

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Colonialism and Male Domestic Service across the Asia Pacific
Author(s): Julia Martínez, Claire Lowrie, Frances Steel, Victoria Haskins

Examining the role of Asian and indigenous male servants across the Asia Pacific from the late-19th century to the 1930s, this study shows how their ubiquitous presence in these purportedly 'humble' jobs gave them a degree of cultural influence that has been largely overlooked in the literature on labour mobility in the age of empire.

With case studies from British Hong Kong, Singapore, Northern Australia, Fiji and British Columbia, French Indochina, the American Philippines and the Dutch East Indies, the book delves into the intimate and often conflicted relationships between European and American colonists and their servants. It explores the lives of 'houseboys', cooks and gardeners in the colonial home, considers the bell-boys and waiters in the grand colonial hotels, and follows the stewards and cabin-boys on steamships travelling across the Indian and Pacific Oceans. This broad conception of service allows Colonialism and Male Domestic Service to illuminate trans-colonial or cross-border influences through the mobility of servants and their employers.

This path-breaking study is an important book for students and scholars of colonialism, labour history and the Asia Pacific region.



Review(s):

“Drawing on transcolonial circuits generated by labor networks across the modern Asia Pacific, this book argues for male domestic service as a cultural contact zone. Rather than sidelining women's work, contributors show how and why the relationality of gender relations was shaped through servitude and cross-hatched by race and indigeneity -- making and remaking the dynamic of public and private at the site of colonial domesticity in the process.” —Antoinette Burton, Professor of History, University of Illinois, USA

“Provocative and original, this book offers a new perspective on colonial labour relations and masculinities. Asian men were employed to a surprising extent in domestic service in the British, American, Dutch and French colonies of the Asia-Pacific. This book highlights their active role in shaping cultures of racialized servitude in the intimate spaces of the home, hotel, club and steamship. Not content with examining the expectations of colonists seeking the luxury of a male domestic staff, the authors give us glimpses into the lives of servants unseen by their employers. Male domestic servants' own bonds of friendship, sociability and protest lie at the centre of this commendable book.” —Alan Lester, Professor of Historical Geography, University of Sussex, UK





ISBN:  9781350056725