Laboring and Hanging Out in the Embodied In-Between


  • Mechthild Hart


In this essay I describe how my involvement in the political struggles of an immigrant domestic workers' collective inspired me to hang out not only with the workers, but also with the writings of María Lugones and Hannah Arendt. The essay invites the reader to engage in a playful rereading of Arendt's notion of the worldlessness of laboring in the private realm by putting her into dialogue with Lugones's notion of the hangout that defies the public–private split Arendt adamantly insists on in all her writings. By following the complex physical, mental, and emotional itineraries of immigrant domestic workers to, from, and in-between a number of places and spaces, I demonstrate how their stories blur the line between public and private, and therefore also between the unfreedom of the body and the presumed escape into the political public. I describe the women's experiences as the living promise of a world that allows for an embodied fluid movement between labor, work, and the freedom “inherent in action” (Arendt 193, 153).