'Madhu pretends to be Mary': Gender, Labour and the Making of Meaning in Bangalore Call Centres

Cambridge Scholars Publishing
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Shadowlines: Women and Borders in Contemporary Asia, 2012, 1, pp. 120 - 144
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When Kwame Anthony Appiah and Homi Bhabha discussed the relationship between postcolonialism and postmodernism over a decade ago, they differed in their analyses of the problem. As Mustafa Bayoumi points out, Appiah considered postcolonialism to be in an ambivalent relationship with postmodern commodification while Bhabha located it as a reconfiguration of postmodern contingency via a type of wily agency. Both scholars noted the importance of disestablishing the primacy of the Self-Other division in this equation and championed the circulations and hybridities of contemporary cultures. Appiah's conclusion was, 'we are all already contaminated by each other' (Bayoumi 2001: 146). This shuttling back and forth between various worlds works not in terms of opposition but of epistemic complicity within an environment of disorder and chaos, subverting the order supposedly imposed by technology. The postcolonial notion of Indianness in the global context demands traditional and predictable markers of identity-names, accent, style-from which call centre workers are supposed to depart in their service of international customers.
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