Domésticas:: Media Representations of Female Latinx Domestic Labor and Care in the US
The Latina maid has historically been one of the signature roles Hollywood has created for Spanish-speaking and/or Latina actors in both film and television entertainment. The late Lupe Ontiveros (1942-2012), one of the most recognizable and respected contemporary Mexican-American actors, said to have played the role of the Latina maid approximately 150 times for US audiences during her career, reflecting the stereotyping that still abounds in the US popular imaginary about the female Latinx Other. From popular films such as Maid in Manhattan (2002), Spanglish (2004), Under the Same Moon (2007), and Cake (2014) to television series such as Will and Grace (1998-2006; 2017-2020), Dharma and Greg (1997-2002), My Name is Earl (2005-2009) and Devious Maids (2013-2016), Hollywood has successfully embraced the Latina/Latinx maid as a ubiquitous female character in the representation of U.S. domestic life. On the one hand, as film scholar Isabel Molina Guzmán states, Hollywood has appropriated this character in a “romanticized and political nonthreatening” (151) way, a process she calls “symbolic colonization” that constructs and projects the Latina/Latinx maid with “desirable femininity, domesticity, and the heteronormative family” (14). On the other hand, as Ai-Jen Poo, executive director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance has proclaimed, media representations of domestic and care workers create a potential cultural and political platform that facilitates the visibility of these women, unveiling the discrimination they suffer as subjects based on their class, gender, sexuality, race and/or ethnicity, and their right to fight for the social and political recognition they deserve.
This panel, already accepted by NeMLA ,invites papers in English or Spanish that explore this contradictory and paradoxical position of U.S. media in representations of the Latina/Latinx maid in film and television in the 21st century, with a focus on narratives that revolve around issues of migration and citizenship, race and ethnicity, Latina identity and Latinidad.
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DEADLINE to submit abstracts is September 30, 2021. To do so, please submit your abstract to this panel session here: nemla.org
 Molina-Guzmán, Isabel. Dangerous Curves: Latina Bodies in the Media. New York: New York University Press, 2010.