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Call for Papers - Domestic Workers in the Countries of Central Eastern Europe and Former Soviet Union: Postsocialist Migrations and Inequalities

Conference venue: Saint Petersburg, Russia
Period: April 24-26, 2015
Deadline for submitting abstracts: January 16, 2015
Deadline for submitting full papers: April 10, 2015

Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg


The collapse of socialist regimes in 1990s triggered intensification of international migrations.In this period of time labour markets of developed countries wereactively segmented with formation of niches occupied predominantly by migrants, including those from the former socialist states. Domestic service domain became one of such niches in the global division of labour. Female migrants who are occupied in private sphere take care of children and elderly, carry out domestic work, and therefore serve the demands of the middle class in developed countries and provide an access to more prestigious jobs and careers to its representatives, especially women.

The view on female migration related to paid labour in private sphere as a move from East to West became mainstream both in thematic choices of researches and everyday perceptions. Traditionally European studies of domestic labour tend to focus on the western countries as receiving countries for female migrants from the countries of Central Eastern Europe and Former Soviet Union.

This conference is aimed to move to different political and economic frameworks and consider how global issues of commercialisation of domestic labour are being solved in the countries of Central Eastern Europe and Former Soviet Union themselves. During the last two decades these countries have developed middle classes, new professional and consumer groups, for whom paid domestic labour became demand and necessity. Migration flows within Europe and beyond have changed sinceCentral Eastern European countries joined the EU in 2004 and 2007, and also due to global economic crisis of 2008-2009and current geo-political situation. Many states switched from being exclusively sending countries on the global labour market, and started to accept international migrants who also work as nannies, nurses, cleaners etc. in the middle class households. Everyday life and work of those migrants in the countries of Central Eastern Europe and Former Soviet Union, as well as their relationships with employers are expected to be a the focus of discussions of the conference participants.

Eligible topics

Our conference will cover several broad issue areas:

  • Commercialisation of care and specificaspects of formation of paid domestic labour market in the countries of Central Eastern Europe and Former Soviet Union. Domestic labour as an economic niche for female migrants. Local and migrant domestics in the sphere of paid domestic labour.
  • Labour relationships in the households: migrants’ labour and life conditions, formation of the rules of interactions, issues of power and exploitation, ways of mitigation of exploitation and issues of rights. Living-in and living-out: overlapping of paid and unpaid domestic chores, issues of personal belongings, privacy and home. Relationships with employers: friendship and love, conflicts, hostility and informal mutual support. Intersectionality in social interactions: class, gender, ethnicity.
  • Nonworking life of migrant domestics: personal and intimate life, personal space and home, families and children, social networks, education, leisure time, travels. Emotional life and belonging, links to sending and other countries. Identity with occupation and receiving society. Perceptions of areceiving country and life in it. Significance of East-West boundary in migrants’ narratives.

We encourage social scholars from post-Soviet and post-socialistspace whose research interests correspond to the conference themes. Contributions focusing on empirical qualitative research of domestic workers are particularly welcome, as are papers which analyse everyday practices and strategies of action and resistance of migrants and their families. One of the conference expectations is formation of a new network of scholars focusing on female domestic workers in the countries of Central Eastern Europe and Former Soviet Union, regardless of their institutional affiliation and nationality.

Keynote speakers: Elena Zdravomyslova (European University at St.Petersburg, St.Petersburg) and Mojca Pajnik (Peace Institute, Ljubliana)

Working languages: Russian and English

Guidelines for submission

Abstracts (200-250 words) and brief biographical notes (max. 100 words) should be sent to Anna Isakova and copied to Olga Tkach by16 January 2015.
Notification of acceptance: by 30 January 2015

In order to organise productive discussions, participants will be asked to submit their papers for presentations (up to 4,000 words, including references) to by 10 April 2015.

Organisation: No registration fee will be charged. Participants’ travelling (economy class) and accommodation costs will be covered by Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung.


  • Centre for Independent Social Research (CISR)
  • Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung

Information & contacts

Anna Isakova

Olga Tkach


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