Mothercoin: Book summary and reviews of Mothercoin by Elizabeth Cummins Muñoz

Mothercoin

The Stories of Immigrant Nannies

by Elizabeth Cummins Muñoz

Mothercoin by Elizabeth Cummins Muñoz X
Mothercoin by Elizabeth Cummins Muñoz
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About this book

Book Summary

A historical and cultural exploration of the devastating consequences of undervaluing those who conduct the "women's work" of childcare and housekeeping.

Mothercoin tells stories of immigrant nannies, mainly from Mexico and Central America, living and working in private homes in the US, while also telling a larger story about global immigration, working motherhood, and the private experience of the public world we have created. In taking up the mothercoin – the work of mothering, divorced from family and exchanged in a global market – immigrant nannies embody a grave contradiction: While "women's work" of childcare and housekeeping is relegated to the private sphere and remains largely invisible to the public world, the love and labor required to mother are fundamental to the functioning of that world. Listening to the stories of these workers reveals the devastating consequences of undervaluing this work.

As cleaners and caregivers are exported from poorer regions into richer ones, they leave behind a material and emotional absence that is keenly felt by their families. Meanwhile, on the other side of these borders, children of wealthier regions are bathed and diapered and cared for in clean homes with folded laundry and sopa de arroz simmering on the stove, while their parents work ever longer hours and often struggle themselves with the conflicting demands of work and family. In the US, many of these women's voices are silenced by language or fear or the habit of powerlessness. But even in the shadows, immigrant nannies live full and complicated lives moved by desire and loss and anger and passion. Mothercoin sets out to tell these stories, tracing the intimate consequences of choices made at the crossroads of globalization, immigration, and the judgments we make about who is a "good" mother.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Muñoz lays bare how essential motherhood is to the functioning global economy. Especially in the wake of the pandemic's massive disruptions to work and childcare, Mothercoin is an affecting, essential read." - Booklist (starred review)

"Rice University lecturer Muñoz debuts with a powerful study of the relationships between immigrant nannies and their employers, their own families, and the children they care for...Muñoz offers valuable insights on a thorny social issue. Feminists and immigrant rights activists will savor this thought-provoking cultural analysis." - Publishers Weekly

"A sensitive investigation of the lives and work of immigrant nannies...A perceptive look into a hidden world." - Kirkus Reviews

"Beautifully written, a perfect balance between the humanity of the women portrayed in it, and the self-consciousness of the author about her own role in that context. A timely, important work, and I can't wait to see it out there, sparking conversations around one of the most important gears that keep this country running." - Eileen Truax, author of We Built the Wall, Dreamers, and How Does it Feel to Be Unwanted?

This information about Mothercoin was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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More Information

Elizabeth Cummins Munoz holds a doctorate in 20-century Latin American literature, specializing in Mexican and US Hispanic studies and women's studies. She is a lecturer at Rice University and lives in Houston, TX, with her family.

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