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Distant Companions

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Distant Companions is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Distant Companions

Servants and Employers in Zambia, 1900–1985

Karen Tranberg Hansen

342 Pages
Paperback
ISBN: 9781501727917
Cornell University Press

Distant Companions tells the fascinating story of the lives and times of domestic servants and their employers in Zambia from the beginning of white settlement during the colonial period until after independence. Emphasizing the interactive nature of relationships of domination, the book is useful for readers who seek to understand the dynamics of domestic service in a variety of settings. In order to examine the servant- employer relationship within the context of larger political and economic processes, Karen Tranberg Hansen employs an unusual combination of methods, including analysis of historical documents, travelogues, memoirs, literature, and life histories, as well as anthropological fieldwork, survey research, and participant observation.

Reviews

"Utilizing an impressive array of research methods—from historical archives to social surveys—Hansen provides both historical depth and current insights into this most contentious of employer-employee relationships. She discovers that the intimacy of the home as a workplace, with its daily contact between servant and employer, requires elaborate rituals to maintain and preserve social distance between employer and employee. Class conflict and tension, often intertwined with race and gender, have a special drama in the household, making this form of labor peculiarly revealing for the study of these issues. Distant Companions is a superb book—carefully crafted, broadly researched, and deeply committed to improving the conditions of domestic labor. It has important implications for the comparative study of domestic work and should be required reading for Africanists and feminists alike."

- Janet L. Parpart, African Economic History

About the Author

Karen Tranberg Hansen is Professor Emerita of Anthropology at Northwestern University. She is the author of Keeping House in Lusaka and Salaula: The World of Secondhand Clothing and Zambia and the editor of African Encounters with Domesticity.

This work can be downloaded for non-commercial purposes:

Creative Commons License
Distant Companions is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.