Society for the Anthropology of Work
General Anthropology Division
Cosponsored - Oral Presentation Session
In Morocco, women are increasingly participating in the paid “productive” work force and the newest generation of married Moroccan women are asking their husbands for help with “reproductive” labor (cooking, cleaning, childcare, etc.). Additionally, changing consumption habits and the introduction of new appliances is influencing the distribution of reproductive labor. A recent significant drop in price of washing machines means that most Moroccans now have a washing machine. This makes washing clothes less time-consuming and has opened this task up to other family members, like older children and even husbands.
In this way, new technologies are both reshaping and reinforcing existing gender roles. Men are more likely to do laundry for the household, but only because it is now a “quick and easy” chore. Instead of cooking a tajine over coals, most urban Moroccan families now use a pressure cooker to make stews and soups more quickly but there is a sense that in an ideal world, mother would have time to cook the tajine slowly over coals. Hiring a female housekeeper is common, especially for those households with small children and both parents working outside the home, mirroring larger global shifts of “working class” turning into the “caring class” (Graeber 2018).
My paper uses a feminist Marxist lens to explore how new technologies and Moroccan middle-class women performing “productive” labor influence the distribution of “reproductive” labor. These findings are based on 17 months of ethnographic fieldwork in Rabat, Morocco including 60 semi-structured interviews and extensive participant observation.