Gender, migration and class: Why are 'live-in' domestic workers not compensated for overtime?

Guy Mundlak*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


In Lars von Trier’s film Dogville (2003), the drama unfolds on a naked black stage with simple lines drawn on the floor, depicting a map of a small town, which serves as a metaphor for real and complex communities. A foreign woman seeks refuge and is invited into the community, but is asked to pay a price in the form of service. This is not really waged work because she receives a home instead. The community does not know exactly what kind of work they can give her: ‘There is really nothing to be done’. Yet, once she is there, they don’t know how they could manage without her. Every hour, on the clock, she would move from one family to another. She cleaned in the house, worked in the field, watched after the children, listened to life-stories, and was even used for sex. For each and every person in the community the foreign woman offered, for one hour a day, something they thought no one else could offer. When the community decided that the price for staying in the community must be raised, they oddly required her to move from one household to another every half an hour. They benefited from her service twice a day, and gained a better control over her time and mind. After formal hours, she was tied down to a heavy iron device to prevent her escaping, making sure she would be available the next day. She was also expected to be appreciative; after all, she was a guest of the family.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWomen and Immigration Law
Subtitle of host publicationNew Variations on Classical Feminist Themes
EditorsSarah Kathrine van Walsum, Thomas Spijkerboer
Place of PublicationAbingdon, Oxon; New York
PublisherRoutledge-Cavendish Taylor & Francis Group
Number of pages19
ISBN (Print)0203945352, 9780203945353
StatePublished - 13 Dec 2006


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