Publication details

Obrázky na cestách : au pair, vizualita a migrácia

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Title in English Travelling with immages : au pairs, visuality and migration


Year of publication 2013
Type Appeared in Conference without Proceedings
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Social Studies

Description In migration, the movement of people as subjects is often followed by movement of objects, including various visual materials. Drawing on broader ethnographic research on au pair migration in London during 2004 and 2005, the aim of this paper is to show the role of visual materials in creation of migration experience. Au pairing combines elements of paid domestic work undertaken by temporary migrants, cultural exchange defined by national and international law, and basic living arrangements. By law au pairs are young foreigners, who stay for up to two years with families in order to learn English and acquire a better knowledge of the country. Au pairs must live ‘as part of family’. They receive food, accommodation, and ‘pocket money’ (i.e. not a wage) in return for childcare and/or housework. Since the early 1990s the dynamics of au pair exchange has significantly changed, with a new generation of au pairs coming from the postsocialist countries of Central and Eastern Europe; many of them from Slovakia. In this paper, I will focus on visual materials used by the au pairs from Slovakia during their stays in London. In particular, I will look at the photographs, which were commonly packed as a part of the luggage when au pairs left to the UK. Later on, other materials piled up, as pictures brought from Slovakia were joined by photographs of children au pairs looked after and pictures taken during their free time. I will pay attention also to other visual materials, in particular on pictures made by children, work schedules, posters and calendars. I will try to show how au pairs used this range of visual materials to accentuate various aspects of their migration experience (e.g. distance from home or relationship with their hosts) and how they used these materials to transcend categories of space and time.
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