ac know ledg ments
When I started this proj ect, I had little sense of what it would all entail. Many
years later I am acutely aware that I would not be here were it not for the gen-
erosity and support of so many.
First, I would like to thank a tangled network of people in Kuwait and South
Asia— “interlocutors” including domestic workers, employers, Islamic da‘wa
and reform movement members, and actors affiliated with the domestic work
sector— who gifted me so generously with their thoughts, time, and energy. With
hindsight I have come to appreciate how odd and in many cases presumptuous my
presence and requests were, and how necessary their kindness, curiosity, play-
fulness, and dedication were to making this research pos si ble. Most especially I
would like to thank (shukriya, mashkura, shukran, dhanyabad, merabani) the
women, “domestic workers,” with whom I spent much of my time in Kuwait
and parts of South Asia. They shared with me so much— challenging conversa-
tions, teasing comments, worlds- within- stories, jokes, advice, hugs, snacks, fash-
ion tips, solicitous phone calls and visits, and above all their companionship—
for which I will forever remain humbled and in their debt. Given the density of
social connections in Kuwait, concerns about privacy, and the often- sensitive
nature of our conversations, with few exceptions my interlocutors asked me to
maintain their anonymity, something that I have respected in this book. Al-
though I have assigned pseudonyms, and use numerous categories and terms
to refer to my interlocutors in this book, I ask that you, gentle reader, please
bear in mind that these pseudonyms and terms only gesture at individuals of
extraordinary complexity. Their utterances and experiences are rich and tex-
tured in ways that far outstrip any rendering of them.
This proj ect was conceived and initially developed in a space I can only describe
as ideal. I was fortunate enough to undertake this work as a doctoral student in
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