Reading Affect—On the Heterotopian Spaces of Care and Domestic Work in Private Households


  • Encarnación Gutiérrez Rodríguez University of Manchester



affect, discourse, deconstruction, difference, care and domestic work, transnational migration, heterotopia


The focus of this paper will be reading affect. By working through examples of ethnographic research with domestic and care workers and their employers in Germany from a discursive-deconstructive perspective, I will show how a deconstructive reading of affect can add to our understanding of (a) 'the speaking subject' embedded within a discursive framework, and, (b) "intensity" in the encounters between domestic and care workers and their employers. These encounters occur in a "heterotopian space", a heterogeneous space ruled by the effects of affective bonds. In this space affect denotes a more or less organised experience, an experience which probably has empowering and disempowering consequences, registered at the level of encounter, and not necessarily to be understood in linguistic terms, but which is analysable as effect (MASSUMI, 1996, p.237). It is by thinking through the words of those who inhabit this gendered and ethnicised heterotopia that the paper looks at the following questions: How can this encounter be read on the basis of affective bonds? How can we grasp affect as a moment of intensity in these relationships? What can reading FOUCAULT, DERRIDA and SPIVAK and thinking through them add to the theorisation of affect? URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0702118


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Author Biography

Encarnación Gutiérrez Rodríguez, University of Manchester

Encarnación GUTÍERREZ RODRÍGUEZ is Senior Lecturer in Transcultural Studies in the School of Languages, Linguistics and Cultures at the University of Manchester. She has widely published on postcoloniality and Europe, migration and subjectivity, life stories and poststructuralist approaches, queer diasporas, work and culture, gender and ethnicity. She is currently leading the Migration and Diaspora Cultural Studies Network, funded by the AHRC.




How to Cite

Gutiérrez Rodríguez, E. (2007). Reading Affect—On the Heterotopian Spaces of Care and Domestic Work in Private Households. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 8(2).