The Other Body: Migration, Work and the Performing Body

Chairs: Roberto Varea and Ulla Berg

Inspired by the recent marches conducted by Bolivian textile workers in Argentina denouncing flagrant human rights violations and abusive working conditions in sweatshops of the Argentinean capital, this workgroup address the performance of work as a fundamental characteristic not only of the experience of migration, but also of its body politics. The workshop takes point of departure in a discussion of the migrant body as a working body – a body which in the context of migration is defined fundamentally by its ability to perform work. By looking at migration as the performance of work, we wish to highlight various possible axis of stratification – race, class, gender, sexuality – that become articulated through such performances. The kinds of work performed – domestic work, heavy construction work, “day labor” work and work on assembly lines in factories – also distinguish the migrant body from other working and non-working bodies. Conversely, we will also discuss immigrant workers’ theater/performance as work that challenges the reductive and dehumanizing processes outlined above. Some of the questions to be addressed include: How can we better understand the experience of migration as performance of work? How do exploitative practices affect the bodies of immigrant workers? And how do immigrants articulate their place in a new society using their bodies as creative agents for other purposes than work?