10. The family/companion/maid distinction is further complicated (though perhaps not so much if you consider who is saying what) by all the middle-class Ayacuchanas who say their maids are like family. I never heard this from a maid, but only from their employers: is it a tactic to pay them less, a genuine affection, both, or something else? In an instructive manual for empleadas, produced by the Institute of Promotion and Formation of Household Workers (IPROFOTH), we are told that during the colonial period, the domestic was thought of as “an object that served in the home of a family, and the relationship between the servant and patron was of a ‘familiar’ character, as it continues to be considered today...The fact that the trabajadora was, or that they said she was, considered part of the family because she was with them many years, was a way to objectively cover up a slavery-like, submissive relationship” (Loza et al. 1990:26-27).
[ return to text ]