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Servants and Sentries— Women, Power, and Social Reproduction in Krióvrisi Muriel Dimen Recent feminist theory about women in the state contrasts their confinement in a domestic role to their exclusion from the public domain of economy and politics (Rosaldo).1 This theoretical work also examines the functions that the household performs for the public world of work and power (Kuhn and Wolpe). One inference to be drawn from this thinking is that the role of women in the household, though privatized, may also bear on public life in the form of articulating the private and public spheres. Insofar as this is the case, women's role may become internally contradictory, and women may become ambivalent about themselves. Here I would like to examine an instance of this contradictory articulation by women's domestic role of the private and public domains . I will explore how women in Krióvrisi, a small mountain village in Epiros, both resist and capitulate to certain forces from the public domain which threaten to fragment both the village and the households in it. These forces are the centrifugal power of the economy and the centralizing power of the state which create alienation and anomie. As a consequence of trying to mitigate the effects of these forces on others, women themselves develop ambivalent feelings about their work, experience, and selfhood. This paper assumes the following, demonstrated elsewhere (Dimen , "Contradictions"): Krióvrisi's alienation and anomie are systemic parts of a larger political structure in which power rests in towns and cities where those with superior control of resources, capital, and 'Full data for references will be found at the end of the article. The field research in 1967-68 was supported by a Predoctoral Research Fellowship No. 5 FOl MH 3283403 and Grant MH 13, 622-01, CUAN from the National Institute of Mental Health. I thank Peter Allen and Jill Dubisch for constructive criticisms of an earlier draft of this paper. 225 226 Muriel Dimen political power live. Livelihoods depend on the sale of labor and products , and the devotion of economic interests, to employers and customers whose residence and own loyalties lie elsewhere. The villagers depend on the state to regulate the flow of economic aid and the ebb of taxes, to inscribe their lives in the bureaucratic records, to show them the way through school and into the military, and to shape their sense of political identity. In the overarching context of modernization and international dependency (Schneider et al., Modernization), the economy, the political structure, and the organization of domestic life combine to create a pervasive apathy and inaction in the everyday public life of the village. This paper amplifies what I have merely suggested elsewhere (Dimen, "Contradictions"): Through the internally contradictory character of the position of women, the household enables Kriovrisi ótes to take the final painful steps on the road that they have been traveling for decades, if not centuries, toward incorporation in the state. I shall utilize three notions—"public/private," "hegemony," and "social reproduction"—to explain how women both resist and capitulate to the power of the state. Following a summary of the argument, and an ethnographic and historical résumé of pertinent historical and ethnographic data on Krióvrisi, the role of women will be analyzed. The theoretical concepts will be explained, and will then be applied to four aspects of women's position in Krióvrisi: their isolation, the restricted scope of their work, the severity of their work, and the submergence of their social selves. SUMMARY OF ARGUMENT The argument runs as follows: The twentieth-century nation-state in Greece, as elsewhere, depends on the household, and the women in it, to sustain people on their forced politico-economic march. The nuclear-family, or extended-family, household is the basic unit of residence, social relations, and personal loyalty, and it is on behalf of it that men labor for wages. The household performs the task of "social reproduction" (see Rapp et al.): Women in the domestic domain make it possible for the young to mature and the mature to be regenerated daily, for social relations to be learned and re-created, and for spirits to be...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-3265
Print ISSN
0738-1727
Pages
pp. 225-242
Launched on MUSE
2010-06-24
Open Access
No
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