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Verein Shedhalle

Rote Fabrik
Seestrasse 395
CH-8038 Zürich

Tel + 41 44 4815950
Fax +41 44 4815951




Mappings, battles, and histories of care work


18th & 19th April 2014

We would like to invite you to two days of reflection and discussion on practices and problems of care. We will be exploring examples of dis/organising care work as well as strategies of knowledge production in this domain, focusing on the narratives and histories of care, work, and migration.

As the welfare state is being dismantled under the auspices of 'crisis', questions pertaining to 'care' and 'social reproduction' have become increasingly urgent. How do we sustain our societies? What happens to those who drop out of the net of social care, or have been excluded to begin with? Who finds themselves doing care work and who can afford to outsource care?

The current cuts to welfare and social rights - particularly drastic in the European south and peripheries - are accompanied by the neoliberalisation of fundamental areas of social reproduction (health, social care, education). It's not only atomised and frustrated 'clients' that exist in these domains, but also increasingly exploited workers: and thus, dynamic struggles for dignified and fairly paid care. Care-givers and care-receivers come together to claim old and new rights: the role of care-givers, particularly of women and migrant workers, is central to this area of contestation and invention. They claim care as a matter that's not private but rather concerns all of society, not least in an economic sense. Thus in looking at organising, campaigning, narrating and producing knowledge around care, we will also map out perspectives of feminist economics. How can community and society be rethought along the lines of collective care and responsibility?

LANGUAGES: English, German and Spanish translation available at all events.

Curated by Manuela Zechner, co-curated by Katharina Morawek

Friday, 18th April 2014

4:30 p.m.

Care-friday Buffet

5 – 7 p.m.

Radical Collective Care Practices: RESPEKT@vpod & No Domestic Worker is Illegal

The 'Radical Collective Care Practices' project gathers examples of collectively organized forms of care, mutual aid and attention, through a series of presentations of examples which get logged in a blog archive. In the context of the current crisis of social reproduction, it has become urgent to discuss collective models of care and related strategies of organisation: this is why we will present two Swiss-based examples in relation to the existing archive. Manuela Zechner will share some of the Radical Collective Care project's core questions and case studies, leading into presentations by members of the RESPEKT@vpod union and of the 'No Domestic Worker Is Illegal' campaign. This evening's presentations and discussion (in German but with translation) will be documented for the blog archive:


The RESPEKT@vpod network gives voice to live-in care workers and Spitex employees with precarious employment conditions, and fights against exploitation in the private care sector. Their core demands are: respectful treatment, the right to a social life and legally defined hours of leisure and rest, compliance with minimum wage regulations, wages that correspond to work experience, clearly defined workloads, sick pay, retirement insurance, job protection and participation rights. Bozena Domanska will tell us about the history and work of Respekt@vpod.

No household worker is illegal

More than 40,000 Sans-Papiers, the majority of them women, are struggling to make their living as domestic workers in Switzerland. They contribute a great deal to the functioning and prosperity of society and are a vital asset to those who can afford to delegate care work. Their employment situation is shaped by extremely precarious working conditions, the lack of social protection and permanent fear of deportation. This campaign departs from a broad coalition of organisations that seek to sustainably improve the situation of undocumented domestic workers, defending their rights to residency and work permits. Bea Schwager will tell us about the history and work of this campaign.

Saturday, 19th April 2014

3 – 6 p.m.

Care, feminist economics and crisis – a multiformat workshop

This workshop lays out different stakes and approaches relating to care and care work, pointing to possible new forms for action, organization and relation in this domain. On the one hand, we will explore ethical and practical perspectives on care through a series of games from the Theatre of the Oppressed and related methods. On the other hand, we will map out the economic and social dimensions of reproductive work (the labours that reproduce waged workers), and go into a feminist analysis of economics and power relations. This workshop (in German with translation) will bring together theoretical, playful-experimental, as well as practical elements and does not require any previous experience or knowledge of the subject. Facilitators: Käthe Knittler and Manuela Zechner.

6 – 7 p.m.


7 p.m.

GUESTures - Presentation and workshop

Margareta Kern will present her project “GUESTures,” which is based on research done by the artist on the mass migration of workers from socialist Yugoslavia to West Germany in the late 1960s. The title is a reference to the German term “guest worker” (in the masculine form). In fact, however, it was a great number of young women, who were often completely on their own and not much older than eighteen or nineteen, who left Yugoslavia to work temporarily abroad. There, they were subjected to extensive health checks in an effort to recruit only “healthy” workers. Along with a reflection on this history, “GUESTures” deals with corresponding contemporary contexts of precarious work, work carried out by migrants, and draws out historical, gendered, and performative aspects.

In the context of a lecture and workshop (in English with translation), Margareta Kern will disclose various elements of the project, such as a video reenactment of an interview with Elena, currently a care worker in Italy, who originally migrated from Moldova to Croatia. Afterwards, there will be a screening of the GUESTures video (HD Video, 33 min., Croatian with English subtitles, 2011)