127.3 Exploring intimate economies: An alternative framework for activists?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012: 1:00 PM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Oral Presentation
Annalee LEPP , Women's Studies, University of Victoria, Victoria, BC, Canada
Jo-Anne LEE , Women's Studies, University of Victoria, Victoria, BC, Canada
Veronica PACINI-KETCHABAW , Child and Youth Care, University of Victoria, Victoria, BC, Canada
This session opens space to explore the rubric, "intimate economies" for revisioning and reworking strategies to achieve a more just and equitable distribution of economic and social power.  Intimate economies are both naturalized (caring work) and stigmatized (erotic labour). This session examines alternative possibilities for reconceptualizing intimate labor beyond traditional economic constructs and moral ascriptions in order to rethink practices for transformation and resistance.

The disconnection of sexual, familial, community and economic realms of social life, the relegation of intimate work, stigmatized and non-stigmatized, to private spheres, and the allocation of physical and emotional caring work mainly to racialized and Indigenous women and girls in North America, has resulted in the devaluation and marginalization of those who perform this work. Consequently, women and girls are often unprotected, precariously employed, and easily exploited and oppressed. The value of their labour is discounted and taken for granted.  As economic actors, their ingenuity, their life sustaining contributions are rendered invisible and dismissed. 

Intimate caring work is widely perceived as non-productive, or a naturally female gendered form of labor. Is it possible to counter these dominant assumptions that make mobilizing resources and community support challenging for social and economic justice activists? Can intimate economies offer alternatives to activists who tend to be siloed and separated into sectoral struggles that mirror state and market logics? How can women's alternative economic strategies be valued against hegemonic understandings of what constitutes "productive" labor? Can the idea of intimate economies open up linkages across sectorally divided activisms and social movements? The three presentations will draw on activist and engaged research with diverse affected communiities (e.g. Indigenous and racialized girls and women; migrant and domestic sex workers; childcare workers).