Abandoned Women and Spaces of the Exception
Geraldine Pratt
Department of Geography, University of British Columbia, Vancouver BC, Canada, V6T 1Z2; email: gpratt@geog.ubc.ca

I consider two cases of legal abandonment in Vancouver—of murdered sex workers and live-in caregivers on temporary work visas—in light of Agamben’s claim that the generalized suspension of the law has become a dominant paradigm of government. I bring to Agamben’s theory a concern to specify both the gendering and racialisation of these processes, and the many geographies that are integral to legal abandonment and the reduction of categories of people to ‘bare life’. The case studies also allow me to explore two limit-concepts that Agamben offers as a means to re-envision political community: the refugee who refuses assimilation in the nationstate, and the human so degraded as to exist beyond conventional humanist ethics of respect, dignity and responsibility.

Women began to go missing from the Downtown Eastside in Vancouver in 1978. The media and the police were oddly inattentive. It was not until 1998—roughly 69 murders later—that they began to pay attention. Subsequently, the DNA of 31 women has been identified on a suburban Vancouver property, and the owner has been charged with their murders and currently awaits trial. Vancouver’s Missing Women, as they are now called, have finally and fully captured the public imagination. In January of 2004, for instance, artist Kati Campbell exhibited an installation called 67 Shawls. The artist had laboriously embroidered text onto 67 shawls; each shawl memorializes one missing woman, and each was to be delivered to a missing woman’s mother when the exhibit closed. Yet, at the moment that Campbell’s shawls were being displayed, a new case involving women in the Downtown Eastside came to light. Another Vancouver man was found to have brutally assaulted an astonishing number of women in the same neighbourhood (Vancouver Sun 2004)1. He had video recorded 12 of these assaults, which was a convenience of sorts for the Vancouver police. My research with domestic workers in Vancouver calls attention to this same uncanny incapacity on the part of the state to regulate and police certain types of violence and illegal behaviour. In 1995 I began working with women who have come from the Philippines on temporary work visas to care for middle class Canadian children in their
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Abandoned Women and Spaces of the Exception


homes. This was an exciting time to start this research because, after years of lobbying, activists were finally beginning to exact some significant legislative reforms. In 1995 in British Columbia, for instance, the Employment Standards Act was amended so that live-in domestic workers were covered by minimum hourly wage and overtime regulations from which they previously had been excluded. However, almost a decade after these legislative reforms, local activists think that the situation of live-in domestic workers in Vancouver has worsened. The state has neglected to enforce the new regulations, and many live-in caregivers are working longer hours under even more exploitative conditions. The Director of the Philippine Women Centre argues that it is now harder to organize domestic workers than it was in 1995, precisely because domestic workers work longer hours than they did before the new labour regulations were put in place. A decade ago, domestic workers used to gather together at the Philippine Women Centre on weekends; now, desperate phone calls come into the Centre on an individual, emergency basis. In the Director’s words, every phone call is ‘‘as if they’re calling 911.’’2 The reference to ‘911’ is ironic because this is the telephone number that is used in Canada to connect a caller to emergency state services. Yet it is precisely the inadequacy of state regulation that leads live-in domestic workers to place emergency calls to the Philippine Women Centre. I want to pursue this issue of absences and lapses in state policing and regulation in particular spaces of the city. Rather than viewing such lapses as aberrations from normal practice, I want to ask how such irregularities become the norm for certain people in certain places. This raises, in the context of everyday life in Vancouver, a paradox that Foucault identified for the modern biopolitical state. The paradox is that there is a positive relation between the state’s assurances of life (eg, protecting the rights and freedoms of citizens, as well as the health of the nation), and the state’s right to kill: ‘‘the more you kill [and] . . . let die, the more you will live’’ (quoted in Stoler 1995:84). The relation between the production of citizenship and the state’s sovereignty over life is therefore not incidental but productive and fundamental. I pursue this paradox by means of Giorgio Agamben’s theorizing of the state of exception. I bring to Agamben’s theory a concern to specify the gendering and racialisation of these processes. As a feminist frustrated by both the everyday violence exacted on certain categories of women and the seeming inability to reform the Live-in Caregiver Program, I turn to Agamben’s theory for fresh ideas about political strategy.

Suspending the Law
According to Agamben, what most characterizes modern biopolitics is the generalized suspension of the law—the state of exception—as a
Ó 2005 Editorial Board of Antipode.

hence the logic of Foucault’s observation about the intimate relation between death and life within the modern biopolitical state. This is the promise and simultaneous failure to reconcile biological life and political life: ‘‘it [modern democracy] wants to put the freedom and happiness of men into play in the very place— ‘bare life’—that marked their subjection’’ (Agamben 1998:10). starting in 1915. becomes that of defining a threshold of who is inside active citizenship and who is excluded.4 We might add Ó 2005 Editorial Board of Antipode. It has a more complex topological relation of being neither inside nor outside the juridical order. he argues. much of this struggle about the worth of different types of human lives takes place through medicalised. between lives with and without political and economic value. In his book Homo Sacer. gendered and racialized discourses about the health. The ‘‘highest political task’’ within modern democratic societies. The one who is abandoned remains in a relationship with sovereign power: included through exclusion. whose life is politically relevant and whose life ceases to be relevant. The difference between exclusion and abandonment turns on the fact that abandonment is an active. Because entry into political life in modern democratic societies is in the first instance through the body’s birth. Agamben argues that certain events of the 20th century are both evidence of and cause for nation states to police the nation’s biological body ever more vigorously. he notes the growing numbers of refugees. Such people are rendered as bare life and legally abandoned. vigour. In particular. But this reconciliation is never entirely effected and distinctions are persistently made between active and passive citizenship. He notes as well the increasing tendency. relational process. The health of the body politic is maintained through the regulation and maintenance of individual bodies. The interest and force of Agamben’s theorizing comes from his insistence that the technologies of abandonment have contemporary relevance. who have been cast out by certain nations and can be seen as a threat to the integrity of other nation-states. It is thus ‘‘impossible to say clearly whether that which has been banned is inside or outside the juridical order’’ (Mills 2004:44). Agamben theorises this sovereign ban through the example of ancient Roman law and the figure of homo sacer. for states to legalise the denaturalization of certain groups of citizens. . poor and aging bodies can be seen as costly to the social body. a legal designation for one who was excluded by and from juridical law.3 The possibility of suspending the law allows the elimination ‘‘of entire categories of citizens who for some reason cannot be integrated into the political system’’ (2005:2). Impure. One source of this continuing relevance lies within what Agamben sees as a structural contradiction at the heart of modern democratic societies. Abandonment is not equivalent to exclusion.1054 Antipode basis of liberal sovereignty. and civility of the body.

which is now securely lodged within the city’s interior. The camp. Bare life is not equivalent to biological life: it is life reduced to Ó 2005 Editorial Board of Antipode.Abandoned Women and Spaces of the Exception 1055 current tendencies within neo-liberalism to judge moral worth in terms of self-care. I would like to contribute to a fuller empirical specification of his argument by considering how power works to target and manage certain groups in concrete spaces. such that a ‘mismanaged’ life is itself evidence of and grounds for abandonment (Brown 2003). Agamben argues that we live in more intimate spatial terms with those who have been abandoned. living’’ (175).5 Not only is there a proliferation of cases of legal abandonment in the contemporary world. which need to be both noted and theorized. He claims that the camp is now widespread and. Agamben is ‘‘not at all sensitive to the gendered dimension’’ (2004:58). . This is perplexing because Agamben develops his analysis of legal abandonment through a distinction between public and private. while other systems of (pre-political. And he alerts us to the fact that ‘‘we must expect not only new camps but also always new and more lunatic regulative definitions of the inscription of [bare] life in the city. Embodying Homo Sacer Agamben is offering a philosophical analysis. In the classical Roman world. Political life emerged in the public sphere of the city. He urges us to ‘‘learn to recognize [the camp] in all its metamorphoses’’ (175) within the spaces of the city. which he maps onto the categories of political and biological life. is ‘‘the hidden matrix of the politics in which we are . As one aspect of this. This is a process ‘‘in which what was presupposed as external (the state of nature) now reappears. They are therefore integral to the process that Agamben describes. Geographies are part of the process by which certain individuals and groups are reduced to bare life. . He cites as examples zones of detention in airports and ‘‘certain outskirts of our cities’’ (1998:175). I pursue in particular the gendering of legal abandonment. politics were anchored by and operated through these distinctions.7 The figure of homo sacer was produced as bare life through the sovereign ban. in fact. . 1998:176). as in a Mobius strip or a Leyden jar. in the inside (as state of exception)’’(1998:37).6 He cites the concentration camp as the paradigmatic space of exception where the suspension of the law becomes localized. patriarchal) authority operated in the home. and is preoccupied with a general topological process that produces exclusion within inclusion in liberal democratic societies. Empirical specification also suggests that legal abandonment takes different forms. he argues. I argue that geographies do more than contain or localize bare life. is the new biopolitical nomos of the planet’’ (original emphasis. As Catherine Mills has noted.

the irreparable exposure of life to death in the sovereign ban’’ (Mills. Pateman 1988). 141). . . . they are more vulnerable to having their ‘private’ selves made into a spectacle through publicity (Fraser 1992)). . Bare life and legal abandonment are not equivalent to the private sphere. without a risk of a challenge to the masculinist. Given the gendered nature of the public/private divide.1056 Antipode matter. sexualization functions as a more relentlessly subordinating discourse and is therefore precisely what permits women’s enfranchisement as political equals without the risk of substantive equality—and more importantly. In Agamben’s account of modern democracy. while women are simultaneously less able than men to maintain the stability of the distinction between private and public (eg. it is the unstable blurring of biological and political life (which takes form as the sovereign citizen) that creates the conditions of modern biopower. while racialization [may first appear as] a more powerfully determining discourse than sexualization in establishing limits to nation-state incorporation. Feminists have long explored the paradox that women’s issues are often depoliticized by being enclaved within the private sphere. ‘‘it is only in living memory’’ that the domestic and family has been ‘‘genuinely subject to the rule of law’’ (2002. . ‘‘an exposure of natural life to the force of the law in abandonment . heterosexual. Comparing the political incorporation of women and Jews in 18th and 19th century Europe. . Both the production of the home as a gendered private space. in which the state administers the health of the national body through and in the name of the health of individual bodies. but the wealth of feminist theorizing on the way that the private-public divide works within modern democracy has to be brought to bear on processes of legal abandonment.8 As Rooney notes. The point here is not only that many of those who are placed in the position of bare life are women. and women’s especial difficulty in maintaining the border between private and public. Recasting private domestic issues such as childcare and domestic assault as public ones remains an area of intense political contest. Rather. and Christian norms at the heart of the putative universality of the state (23). it is inconceivable that these processes work in a uniform way for men and women. are key resources for the legal abandonment of women. Brown (2004) underlines the fact that it is not simply the case that women have had troubled access to the public sphere. It is also that both admission to citizenship and rendering Ó 2005 Editorial Board of Antipode. she concludes that. so amply explored within feminist scholarship (Landes 1998. . 2004:46). women’s formal equality within the public sphere has been entirely dependent on their subordination within the home. Marston 1990.

As Lisa Sanchez comments. One of the stories that the media has circulated about the fate of the missing women is that their remains were consumed by pigs on the farm of the accused. but it does so partially and differentially’’ (2004:879). Legal abandonment occurs through a complex and gendered layering and enfolding of geographies of public and private.Abandoned Women and Spaces of the Exception 1057 individuals as bare life are accomplished through—and often in the name of—gendered and heterosexual norms. Although it is estimated that the pig meat was distributed to 40 acquaintances of the accused murderer (Pynn 2004:A1). I would like to develop this argument in relation to the two examples with which I began. significant. So too. I am suggesting that there are real limitations to generalizing across the experiences of men and women. ‘‘the law of exclusion. one into the other. given a long colonial history of marking Filipino ‘primitivism’ through habits of food consumption. . the other marks a troubled passage from Ó 2005 Editorial Board of Antipode. the media has identified one Filipino man—Crisanto Diopita—as a key recipient. My desire to work with the two cases emerges first from the uncanny ways that the stories haunt each other. In both cases the women’s claims to rights are compromised by the fact that they embody particular racialised historical geographies. One haunts the nationstate from ‘within’as a reminder of the inability of the state to conclude the act of colonization. The cases are provocative to read against each other for additional reasons.9 Cannibalism—even second order and accidental cannibalism—is yet another iteration of this marking. and across racialized and gendered forms of abandonment. the experience of being stigmatized as a prostitute haunts Filipino domestic workers. and—most importantly—that gender hierarchies support and relay the split between biological and political life. targets gendered and racialized bodies most persistently. who speak of ongoing battles against being cast as prostitutes or otherwise immoral women (Pratt 2004. The fact that Diopita is both the only acquaintance named and is identified as Filipino is. and suggest that the accused murderer was ‘‘well known in the Filipino community’’ (Skelton and Fong 2004:A4). and the circumstances of Filipina domestic workers. I think. These racialized geographies nonetheless locate them at the limits of the Canadian nation in different respects: many of the missing women were aboriginal and domestic workers are prospective immigrants. which is both cause and effect of abandonment. I am not claiming that women’s gender subordination creates the most egregious instances of legal abandonment. and that the pigs were then slaughtered and distributed for human consumption. Pratt in collaboration with the Philippine Women Centre 2005). the missing women in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. far from being an equal-opportunity subordinator.

this cop goes to me like this. describes standing on the street with her daughter: And then when I’m standing there.11 I want to unsettle this expectation by looking as well at a more banal. Different zones of exception offer different opportunities for thought. Finally. . but sex workers and domestic helpers lie at and play upon provocative extremes within gendered norms: that of public whore and domesticated mother. He says ‘you standing out here again?’ And I said. It is where one expects to find the state of exception.10 The differences between the cases are particularly productive in another respect. That police could lose track of so many of these women is in some ways astonishing. HIV-AIDS and Hepatitis B. a 52 year old aboriginal woman. especially given that the women were for the most part sex workers.1058 Antipode ‘outside’. Lana. less predictable and less sensationalized place of exception: the middle-class home. and is the site of high concentrations of drug addiction. prostitution. These are the refugee and the human being so degraded as to demand an ethics beyond liberal humanism. The locations of the case studies call up these same extremes. Producing Vancouver’s Missing Women as Bare Life For many years the police insisted that the missing women had not been killed: they were merely transient (de Vries 2003. ‘What the hell are you talking about?’ ‘Can you give me your Ó 2005 Editorial Board of Antipode. They bring to each other doubts about conventional political strategy: the ineffectiveness of the legislative victories of domestic workers suggest the violence of exclusion through noncitizenship. Each case also offers opportunities to explore how conventional attempts to bring abandoned subjects back from bare life can be limited by the ways that they re-enact gender and class norms. Both examples draw our attention to the fact that it is often women who are cast into bare life. Pitman 2002). each case brings us close to one of two figures that Agamben offers as a means to re-envision political community. Women living in the Downtown Eastside interviewed by Jennifer England (2004) speak of daily police harassment that follows from the fact that they are invariably read as prostitutes. the case of the murdered women tells domestic workers that citizenship is no protection. Activists argue that gentrification pressures in this area have only increased the policing of prostitution in this part of the city (this has had the effect of forcing sex workers into more isolated and more dangerous areas) (Pitman 2002). whose bodies were undoubtedly closely surveilled. ‘come here’. They thus collaborate to call into question the completeness of the territorialization of the nation-state. The Downtown Eastside includes the poorest census tract in Canada. such that we might tentatively explore them.

In response to public requests for a concerted police investigation. an eternal outsider who cannot be displaced [because she has no place]. in Vancouver the suspicion of their return to respectable life justified police inaction. Mexico have justified their failure to stop the flow of murders of hundreds of women by casting doubt on their morality. . . I say ‘no I rather not come with you.Abandoned Women and Spaces of the Exception 1059 names. reportedly stated. Similarly (but in reverse). . or may be seeking to distance themselves from their stigmatized lives as prostitutes. of the women’s feelings that they are both hyper-visible and invisible.000 incentive for women to ‘‘call home’’ (de Vries 2003:221). both illegal and impossible. And yet they still intimidated me because they didn’t think I would. ‘‘We are not running a location service’’ (de Vries 2003:217). In other words. both inside and outside the gaze of the state. the presumption of transience made sense because of other geographical assumptions. a figure of eternal motion. Ó 2005 Editorial Board of Antipode. In the case of the missing women. and first suggested that any reward that might be offered be framed as a $5.’’ One part of this illusive mobility is a suspicion that prostitutes lead double lives. both of you give me your names. elusive and ghost-like. ‘what’s the problem here’ . My daughter went over there and says. which is the Indian reserve (Peters 1996:1998)14. Philip Owen. . Their inclusion within the law as sex workers is simultaneously an act of exclusion. These comments can be understood to reflect some unfounded geographical assumptions about the inherent mobility of drug addicts12 and sex workers. based on speculation that they may have entered a treatment program. It is often assumed that aboriginals in cities are merely transient. 2004:308). Family and friends are often asked. Wright (2004) traces how police in Ciudad Juarez. England traces what she calls a ‘‘trope of visibility/invisibility’’. All of these spatialities undergird legal abandonment. Cause if you’re going to act smart you’re going to come with us’.13 Lisa Sanchez’s (2004) contends that the sex worker is ‘‘a subject who is always already out of place . they tried to cover up to her (quoted in England. and to trace the colonial geography that their aboriginality implies. in another location under another identity. because they had made a mistake. and then pretty soon. There has been a long history in Canada of assuming that aboriginals and cities are mutually exclusive. . the mayor. en route to their legislated ‘camp’. ‘‘Are you sure that she didn’t lead a double life?’’ (377). police and civic officials were slow to accept that they were not simply transient. but I’d rather report you to your supervisor’. Another geographical way of making sense of the police argument about transience is to note that at least 39 of the missing women were aboriginal.

the attorney general and Vancouver police produced and distributed a poster about the missing women. de-contextualised. are also represented on the grid. the first fact that we learnt was that Crey was ‘‘a drug addict who lived in a residential hotel in Vancouver’s seamy Downtown Eastside (Armstrong 2004:A7). friends and community activists continued to call for state action. This has also persisted in media reportage. however. there appeared two lists on opposite sides of the screen: missing persons on the right. and family.17 The compulsion to quantify is so great that the women whose DNA has been found but not identified. and arrayed in a grid. On the missing persons page of the Police Department website. Cropped closely around the head. for whom there is no photograph. and not on individual lives lost. The missing women poster continues to shape media images of the women even to this day. when it was reported in the national newspaper. missing sex workers on the left. in January 2004. and layout contribute to produce the missing women in less than a human subject position. and announced a reward of up to $100. For instance.000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of a person or persons responsible for the women’s disappearance. Under increasing pressure. Its enframing of the missing women has important effects because it is arguable that the photos. more and more women had disappeared. reused it when reporting that the remains of nine more women had been verified (Figure 1. Jennifer England (2004) has argued that the poster criminalized the missing women because the photographs that appeared on this poster were in a mug shot format that either were or resemble those taken when a person is processed during arrest. these photographs report on the state’s administration of already deviant bodies. the local newspaper. They thus trace (or suggest) a history and micro-geography of bodies that already have been processed and administered by the police for their social deviancy.1060 Antipode By 1998.16 The mug shot format continues to be used even after the women’s fate has been well established. text. . The Globe and Mail. At the heading of the original poster ran the title: ‘‘Missing Downtown Eastside Women. The Vancouver Sun. A sister of one of the missing women has interpreted this as evidence that: ‘‘Sex workers were excluded from the ‘persons’ category’’ (de Vries 2003:104). Culbert 2004). for instance. for instance. that Dawn Crey’s remains had been identified in January 2004. Identification with the Downtown Eastside is problematic because Ó 2005 Editorial Board of Antipode. The media uncovered the story of police operating very differently in different spaces of the city and in relation to different categories of citizens15.’’ The poster thus explicitly located the women within a particular space: the Downtown Eastside. These representations of the missing women nonetheless undermined their claims to be citizens with rights to police protection.

.Abandoned Women and Spaces of the Exception 1061 Figure 1: Locating missing women Ó 2005 Editorial Board of Antipode.

which is also the site where the women’s remains have been found. First. impoverished and degenerate bodies. A complex layering of imaginative geographies has led to the reduction of missing women to bare life. the location of the accused murderer’s home. This is an argument that Sherene Razack has made in relation to the 1995 murder of Pamela George. Simply being in this space is taken as evidence of the women’s degeneracy. The accused murderer owned and lived on a pig farm.’’ It has been described as outside ‘‘civilization. there are the colonial geographies that make First Nations women almost naturally disappear in an urban context.1062 Antipode media representations of the neighbourhood tend to be uniformly negative and sensational. Razack states succinctly: ‘‘[s]he was of the space where murders happen. as a bounded area of disorder at the heart of the city or civilized life. Finally. Trying to understand why the two white middle-class 19-year-old men who killed Pamela George received relatively light sentences. and the persistent association of the women with it. 18 There is an odd symmetry between this photograph and popular understandings of the spatial order of the Downtown Eastside. including a rich and diverse tradition of artistic production and political organizing. In the case of the missing women. women were and continue to be represented almost exclusively as diseased. Second. now—literally—as disembodied DNA or as dead contaminating meat. an aboriginal women working as a sex worker in another western Canadian city. which was also the site of notorious parties to which the murdered women were allegedly transported directly from the Downtown Eastside. Imaginative and material geographies are part of the process of constructing certain categories of people as bare life. Rather than presenting its complexities. criminalized. These distanced aerial photographs show the farm framed by neat rows of suburban housing developments. It is not only that geographies contain bare life—that camps localize states of the exception. 2004). Aerial photographs of the farm have appeared in local newspapers (and are reprinted in Oleksijczuk (2003)). In February 2002. such that the police failed to investigate their disappearances. and thus excite the viewer to speculate on their own proximity to danger and to explore their vulnerability to the barbarism living right next door. has only cemented the reduction of the women to bare life. and ‘‘probably Canada’s worst neighbourhood. there is the unremitting stigmatization of the Downtown Eastside. they were not’’ (2000:126). in some cases for over twenty years. media regularly present the Downtown Eastside as the epicenter of a national crisis in illegal drug use (England. Third.’’ literally beyond ‘‘the boundary into hell’’ (quotes are taken from the Vancouver Sun in summer 1998. Sommers and Blomley 2003:19). . there was the assumed mobility of sex workers. the Vancouver Sun began to Ó 2005 Editorial Board of Antipode.

and Erasing them Once Again Not all of the media coverage has reduced the Missing Women to bare life. In a newspaper review of her show (Laurence 2004:35). . . Ó 2005 Editorial Board of Antipode. inter-racial] community’’ in Vancouver.’’ ‘‘What could I give. as if they have somehow forfeited their humanity and their emotional ties’’ (35). I couldn’t even see it. namely to address ‘‘our culture’s refusal to empathize with drug addicts and prostitutes. Because these family members are typically located outside the Downtown Eastside. Still. The director of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency was quoted as speculating: ‘‘I can’t imagine any testing that would distinguish. Reclaiming the Missing Women from Bare Life. Each shawl is embroidered with lines of text that are words and phrases that refer to the names of the missing women.’ Pressed by the journalist. Louise means ‘brave warrior’. um. one for each murdered or missing woman’s mother. We can see this community at work still in Kati Campbell’s art piece with which I began.’’ Campbell tells us. .’’ The reviewer of Campbell’s work recognises her politicized intent. We are told that Campbell is ‘‘reluctant’’ to do this. ‘‘she does agree that her understanding of grief and mourning made empathy possible’’ (Laurence 2004:35). ‘‘The most prevalent middle name of all the women. ‘‘is Louise—it turns up at least a dozen times . She tells the reviewer that. she invites her to compare their grief to her own grief over the accidental death of her 15-month old daughter. so it’s a wonderful refrain that works its way through the piece. Campbell is quoted as saying: ‘‘I was thinking really hard about how to deal with these losses in a way that does not add to the media spectacle. they also reconnect the women—typically as sisters and daughters—with non-stigmatized places. quoted in Oleksijczuk 2003:112). ‘‘that would be a real aid to mourning?’’ She settled on crafting 67 shawls. you know—animal matter one from another’’ (Bolen and Kines 2002:A6. .’ she asks. Bare life indeed.Abandoned Women and Spaces of the Exception 1063 explore a story that played on fears of an inability to contain this disorder: there was speculation that fragments of some of the women’s bodies had entered the food chain through a local rendering plant to which the accused delivered pig entrails. she presses Campbell to link the specifics of her personal life to the grief of the mothers of the murdered women. ‘‘the first time my partner made the connection. These women are often returned to their full humanity through the caring and grieving voices of their family members. In particular.19 Bev Pitman (2002:176) has argued that the sympathy evoked by these stories created in 1999 ‘‘an uncommon kind of [cross-class.

Halfway through the segment. as Pitman notes. . a US reality television program. Empathy through normalised family loss humanizes the murdered women by locating them within narratives of the middle-class family. and potentially depoliticizes aboriginal women’s and sex workers’ specific marginality in the Downtown Eastside. this is a curious portrayal of Sarah de Vries. individualizes. this enacts ‘‘for a second time’’ (179) the violence of removing an aboriginal woman from the streets of Vancouver.1064 Antipode Campbell’s hesitation to equate her grief with that of the murdered women’s mothers is one that I want to pursue. Producing Filipina Domestic Workers as Bare Life This is little doubt that those who come through the Canadian federal government’s Live-in Caregiver Program are in an ambiguous legal state. it privatizes. But. Given her mixed African-Canadian and aboriginal heritage. I want to turn now to the case of Filipina domestic workers because it thoroughly disrupts the middle class home as an unambiguous space from which to build inclusion. and it resituates the missing women— not as citizens within the city—but within the private sphere of prepolitical life. As such. there was a dramatic re-enactment of the disappearance of Sarah de Vries. but that the generalized grieving solicited by the journalist potentially abstracts the murdered women’s lives in troubling ways. This is also a tactic of re-incorporating the missing women into the social body by assimilating them within the space of the white middle-class family. It possibly also provides another model for thinking about returning those who have been cast into bare life to full humanity. focused its sights on the Vancouver Missing Women case in 1999. It establishes the family as the criterion by which their life is grieveable. They are on temporary work visas. living in Canada as citizens of another country. it is too easy to empathize in a generalized way as mothers (or sisters or fathers or brothers) if it allows us to evade the specificity of sex workers’ lives and their particular (state regulated) vulnerability to violence. It is not that empathy is misguided. their residency in Canada is carefully monitored. In short. and periodically there is a high profile deportation that makes visible through example the discretion and force of state Ó 2005 Editorial Board of Antipode. Not only is this a gendered and heteronormative narrative. A young white woman was shown stepping into a brown van. Bev Pitman (2002) understands this whitening of Sarah de Vries to reflect an attempt to increase audience identification among white middleclass viewers. one of the missing women.20 The propensity to neutralize specific race and class experiences was demonstrated in a striking way when America’s Most Wanted.

One of the issues that I have explored over the last decade is how and why this program of indentured servitude persists in a liberal democratic society such as Canada. the way the system is set up. the enforcement of’’ their employment contract with the domestic worker (cited in Stasiulis and Bakan 2004:250). Domestic workers’ rights within Canada are on equally shaky ground. dirty.Abandoned Women and Spaces of the Exception 1065 power. but it is usually perceived in positive terms. responsibility. For example. as one activist put it. protection of employee rights is a provincial. nor does it bear responsibility for. In any case. ‘‘at which point. It is not. where law is decided and administered in a discretionary way and those who are abandoned are both inside and outside the jurisdiction of the law. But it is also intimately bound up with the material and symbolic spaces in which domestic work occurs and the geographies that are read into Filipinas (Pratt 2004). Most live-in caregivers come to Canada from the Philippines. Domestic labour is typically not seen as work. the Philippines has been largely ineffectual in protecting the rights of its citizens working abroad as domestic workers (Pratt 2004). ‘‘the contractual model (with its assumption of juridical equality) ceases to inform the internal operation of the relationship’’ (Macklin 1992:749). Not only does it persist without much censure or popular protest. it’s very easy to abuse domestic workers because they are in powerless position’’ (quoted in Macklin 1992:729). This clear conscience is in part due to the fact that domestic workers can apply for citizenship after 24 months in the program. Employers have a very difficult time distinguishing whether the labour of live-in caregivers is Ó 2005 Editorial Board of Antipode. and not a federal. the employment contract is itself paradoxical because it is a contract to assume the status of live-in servant. The policy is thus a time-limited period of legal abandonment for which citizenship is judged as compensation (Pratt in collaboration with the Philippine Women Centre 2005). employers are told by the Canadian federal government that ‘‘Citizenship and Immigration Canada is not party to. nasty. ‘‘That many (perhaps most) employers choose not to mistreat their domestic workers does not negate the availability of the option’’ (Macklin 1992:729). The point is.’’ in the words of a Canadian legal scholar. . non-political space that ought to be free from state interference. As is the case for most sending countries. In other words. The point about the literal spaces in which domestic work is carried out is simply this: in many ways the home is still perceived to be a private. This is precisely the state of exception of which Agamben writes. Critics argue that this position signals to employers ‘‘implicit permission to violate contract provisions’’ (Stasiulis and Bakan 2002:250). ‘‘that all employers are mean. This is a space of exception that liberal middle-class Canadians seem to administer with a clear conscience. evil people in comparison with lovely domestic workers.

‘Would you please sit and eat!?’ No. when they are. I have been told about it by many nanny agents operating in Vancouver (Pratt 2004).’’ (Interview with Nanny Agent E. so as to make their ambiguous legal status unremarkable. But there is no discipline and structure . For example: Filipina nannies [as compared to European nannies] will ‘‘let your children pee in the park. you know. One plays on a discourse of primitivism. the adults who are coming over. . .1066 Antipode Figure 2: A curious comparison between nanny and dog Note: This is a rendering of the photograph which appeared in the newspaper. present in the home. another on their utter desperation as ‘third world women’. . It seems reasonable to ask domestic workers to watch children for an extra half hour or so. . There’s none of this. . . . . . You know. waged labour. between biological and political life. so it’s a hell of a life . private and public space. They’re kind and caring and loving and that sort of thing. June 1994). . in any case. the work of social reproduction or gifts of labour time. This is especially so when domestic workers are compelled to live in the employer’s home. There are many ways into the primitivism argument because it is so pervasive. . They just take their pants down in the park. It may seem reasonable to ask a domestic worker to clean the family’s dishes after meals because she presumably needs to do at least some of this labour as a means of reproducing herself. Domestic workers labour in a zone of indistinction between work and leisure. Or: By our standards . . you don’t line up for a bus. were not raised how we would raise our children at all . It was not possible to obtain permission to use the orginal photograph. they can run all over the house eating something. But it is not only that domestic work is done within the home. You push Ó 2005 Editorial Board of Antipode. there are other geographies at work that systematically reduce Filipinas to bare life.

where the majority of foreign domestic workers are Filipino. one nanny agent reasoned: ‘‘[this] would not work at all. This primitivism also operates in media representations that are meant to be critical of it. Explaining why established labour standards of minimum wage and overtime provisions cannot be applied to domestic work. . You make sure you get yours first. things are not good back in the Philippines. There’s not the money there [within the household budgets of prospective Canadian employers]. dog walkers. who are hired to care for dogs on the other. Take. because that [the Live-in Caregiver Program] is the foot in the door for many immigrants . Because the dog caregivers are absent from the visuals. and domestic workers and the various groomers. But both the text and visuals work differently. which fits in more with a Canadian society. various nanny agents whom I have interviewed in Vancouver voiced this assumption. June 1994). . And there’s a lot of learning that a lot of Filipino people have to do. a reading that is prompted by the title. (Interview with Nanny Agent H. They would be doomed to a life there’’ (Interview with Nanny Agent H. for example. an in-depth article that appeared in 2001 in the major national newspaper. ‘‘You wouldn’t wish it on a dog’’. The article advocates for domestic workers in Los Angeles by comparing the deplorable wages and conditions of domestic workers with the expenses that affluent households willingly pay for the care of their dogs. Again. you see. When you sit at the table. . The Globe and Mail (Figure 2. but destitution is not an accurate representation of many of their circumstances given the program requirements that they have linguistic competence in one of the two national languages and two years of post-secondary education. so you take proportionately. etc. You know. The comparison should be made between children and dogs on the one hand. . Domestic workers are certainly coming to Canada for the opportunity to immigrate and for economic opportunities. . So there’s none of that. June 1994).Abandoned Women and Spaces of the Exception 1067 aside some little old lady getting on the bus. you don’t see that there’s so much food. It will just cut down on the amount of immigration from the Philippines tremendously. This reading is particularly problematic in Canada. Rhacel Parrenas (2005) has argued that it is in fact the middle classes in the Philippines who are most prone to do overseas contract work. Saunders 2001). They do this in order to maintain their middle class standing in Ó 2005 Editorial Board of Antipode. and one means of primitivising Filipinos is precisely through their reputation as ‘dogeaters’. There is a second characteristic of their geography that sticks to Filipinas so as to turn their indentured servitude in Canada into a kind of rescue mission: this is the assumption of utter destitution of life in the Philippines. . No. we pair the domestic worker with the dog.

For domestic workers. In both cases. But subsequent efforts to bring these women into visibility tend to relocate them in their familial homes. in private depoliticized spaces that equally strip them of their status as public citizens.1068 Antipode the face of massive privatization of state services in the Philippines. labour in the home is indistinct from social reproduction and leisure activities. For missing women. The instability of women’s passage from private into political life haunts these women and returns to produce them as bare life. and they tend to be conceived with familial relations. An End to Civil War? While Agamben’s insensitivity to gender is perplexing and limiting. Live-in caregivers have precarious claims to workers’ rights because they work and live in their employers’ homes. Layers of takenfor-granted gendered and racialised geographies make unremarkable the abandonment of certain groups of women. Although Agamben claims that the very distinction between public and private is deactivated in the state of exception. they are always accomplished through particular material and symbolic geographies. especially health and education services. I do not want to under estimate the significant opportunities that he brings to feminist theorizing and strategizing. I have argued. five as midwives. occurring under the discipline of the IMF and World Bank. Such forms of legal abandonment are gendered and racialized. one as a registered nurse. the space of the home disrupts claims to full active citizenship. The home is a private space to some extent presumed to be beyond state regulation. Bare life describes a human life reduced to matter. Yet media fascination with poverty in the Philippines. Legal abandonment is not another way of telling the story of the private sphere. seven as school teachers and one as a nurses’ aid. does nothing to convey this message of middle-class labour migration—of the basic similarity between middle class Canadians and the Filipinas whom they employ as servants. and bare life is not equivalent to a feminized social existence of toil within the domestic realm. The educational credentials of the 15 domestic workers with whom I have worked closely over the last decade (Pratt and the Philippine Women Centre 2005) certainly bear this out: considering their educational qualifications from the Philippines. that practices of legal abandonment do not simply happen anywhere. it was their inability to claim home in the Downtown Eastside that rendered them invisible. . Assumptions about the inherent transience of the missing women led to police neglect. one was trained as a social worker. for example with the sale of body organs. a Ó 2005 Editorial Board of Antipode. the continuing gendering of the distinction is itself a resource for legal abandonment. then.

and thus continues the process of nation-building through the production of bare life. Another is the refugee who refuses assimilation within the nation state. I am particularly interested by the ways in which his theorizing challenges feminists to rethink political strategy for bringing abandoned women back to social life. . Ó 2005 Editorial Board of Antipode. in particular. as fully human beings. a form of sovereignty that wages a kind of continual civil war through the production of bare life? The two cases that I have considered are intriguing because they bring us close to two limit-concepts that Agamben uses to re-imagine political community. One is the human so degraded as to exist beyond conventional humanist ethics of respect. A second strategy is to force the Canadian government to allow Filipinos to migrate to Canada on the basis of their professional credentials. might Agamben’s theorizing provoke us to think beyond conventional means of bringing homo sacer back to life through the production of similarity within liberalism? My own efforts in the last section to retrieve Filipino domestic workers as professionals operates within this circuit of producing inclusion through similarity. With respect to the latter. a link that is forged in liberal societies through the concept of the citizen and territorialisation of individual rights within the nation-state. In other words. they are attempting to force the Canadian government to admit Filipinos as citizens rather than as labour migrants. How. The figure of the refugee who refuses assimilation is of one who refuses to submit their personhood to the territorializing biopolitical state. I want to think with the figure of the refugee in relation to foreign domestic workers because it provokes a different line of political strategy than the one pursed in recent years by the Philippine Women Centre. Might Agamben’s theorizing enable us to rethink more profoundly our relationship to biopolitical sovereignty. a form of sovereignty that is driven to abandon more and more citizens as a way of purifying and enhancing the health of the nation. The danger of rehabilitating the goodness of middle-class professional immigrants is that it potentially reinstates a division between good and bad immigrants (Honig 1998. Agamben goes so far as to recommend that we ‘‘build our political philosophy anew starting from the one and only figure of the refugee’’ (2000a:15). Ong 1996).Abandoned Women and Spaces of the Exception 1069 life in many ways beyond gendered existence. dignity and responsibility (Agamben 2000b). The importance of this figure is that it severs the connection between personhood and the nation-state. typically within the health professions. Agamben asks us to think about political strategy in other terms because seeking inclusion as citizens does nothing to disrupt a political community based on a process of abandonment. Their main strategy has been to lobby for the eradication of the Live-in Caregiver Program.

I have also worked with Filipino-Canadian immigrant youth. Linkages to Amsterdam. for instance. In recent years. I have become increasingly interested in the refusals voiced by Filipina domestic workers once they have received Canadian citizenship. They feel that their migration was forced on them by economic circumstances brought on by the corruption of the Philippine government and the stranglehold of the World Bank and IMF. . They have also crafted a strong network of linkages in Europe and the United States. are strong. a three month period in 1970 of mass mobilization in the Philippines to protest the Marcos regime. one of their strongest alliances is with First Nations youth organizations. In short. was organized under the theme of ‘Ipagpatuloy: Living the Storm’. extra-territorial attachments in their identification as Filipino (Pratt in collaboration with the Filipino-Canadian Youth Alliance 2004). The tenth annual cultural evening of the Filipino-Canadian Youth Alliance in May 2005. they are ambivalent Canadian citizens. At the moment. This identification takes them on regular visits to the Philippines and they gather political strength from a history of student activism in the Philippines.1070 Antipode Agamben urges the need to imagine fully political subjects outside of and beyond specifically liberal notions of citizenship. they have sought different. some who are children of these domestic workers. What might this mean for domestic workers? Without really knowing the answer to this question. to reference that this year also marks the 35th anniversary of the First Quarter Storm. and to draw a line of continuity between this struggle and their own in Canada. as well as a shared critique of liberal norms and the uneven application of them. where Professor Jose Maria Sison lives in the state of exception21. but who received their Canadian citizenship very unwillingly. the displacement of First Nations in Canada Ó 2005 Editorial Board of Antipode. for example. I want to argue that this process of alliance building offers a moment for imaging political community within Canada. Over the decade I have worked with a number of the women who came through the Live-in Caregiver Program and are now permanently settled in Canada. not based in identification through an abstract notion of national belonging or citizenship rights. and they remain bitter about their experiences in Canada as live-in domestic workers (Pratt and the Philippine Women Centre 2005). They articulate their alliance around a common theme of displacement and forced migration. That process of translation requires a laboured process of reading across particular embedded histories. But I am particularly interested in the ways that these youth articulate their transnational Filipino identity with other youth groups in Vancouver. but as a series of incomplete translations across partially overlapping issues and concerns. Feeling alienated from what they perceive to be a racist Canadian society.

Perhaps this is one model for realizing what Agamben urges for all of us: that is. but social and political identification is always excessive to these alliances. ‘‘to recognize the refugee that he or she is’’ (2000a:25). namely a person whose identifications and claims to social and political life exceed citizenship. sheltered life Just go on and on For nobody special from your world is gone Just another day Just another death Just another Hastings Street whore Sentenced to death The judge’s gavel already fallen Sentence already passed But you You just sip your coffee Washing down your toast.Abandoned Women and Spaces of the Exception 1071 and the land question in the Philippines. one of the murdered women: Woman’s body found beaten beyond recognition You sip your coffee Taking a drag of your smoke Turning the page Taking a bite of your toast Just another day Just another death Just one more thing you so easily forget You and your soft. Political solidarities are constructed. She was a broken-down angel A child lost with no place A human being in disguise She touched my life Ó 2005 Editorial Board of Antipode. Consider a poem written by Sarah de Vries. The missing women may offer another way to think through the aporia of the irreconcilability of political and biological life within liberalism. .

The woman has been legally abandoned: the judge’s gavel has already fallen. Sarah de Vries (de Vries 2003:233–4) Sarah anticipated our neglect. and expresses a desire to have borne witness to Sarah’s murder. the dehumanizing process of Auschwitz reduced many prisoners to a state in which they had lost their capacity to observe and testify.’’ one that lies beyond a claim for individual rights tied to the autonomy of our bodies (2004:26)? Sarah de Vries’ poem is shocking and provokes shame because it bears witness to our neglect. in Judith Butler’s words. She imagined us reading about a murdered sex worker’s death as we eat our breakfast toast. Witnessing. and key to the possibility for political Ó 2005 Editorial Board of Antipode. In a book memorializing her sister’s life and death. of a body beaten beyond recognition? And how might such recognition open up. would so many women have died? Would we have read her poem if she had not? Witnessing is an intersubjective process. . ‘‘another kind of normative aspiration in the field of politics. entails bringing into language that which does not have a language because the victims were rendered mute. Maggie de Vries agonizes over this aloneness. with Agamben’s (2000b) discussion of the ethical force of the testimony of survivors from Auschwitz. Its ethical force lies in resisting biopolitical efforts to separate those abandoned in bare life from speaking. She is beaten beyond recognition. Further. Had we heeded her poem. He argues that such survivors speak by proxy for those who did not survive.1072 Antipode She was somebody She was no whore She was somebody special Who just lost her way She was somebody fighting for life Trying to survive A lonely lost child who died In the night. beyond speech. on the part of survivors. She speaks in proxy for herself. all alone. scared Gasping for air. and her authority undoubtedly comes from her very own death (Felman 2001). and dies scared and all alone. in an uncanny way. fully human beings. This resonates. How might we respond to the poem’s call for recognition. The terrible burden of Sarah de Vries’ poem comes from the fact that she is testifying (before the fact) about an event (murder) that she cannot witness.

Endnotes Twelve of these assaults took place in the Downtown Eastside in Vancouver. I thank Maggie de Vries for permission to reprint her sister’s poem. or paranoid fears about a generalized vulnerability to sexual predators—mourning the missing women would involve allowing our relationship to them to change us.Abandoned Women and Spaces of the Exception 1073 transformation through witnessing is the understanding that the act of public testimony transforms those who witness such testimony (Butler 2004). Mourning involves an acceptance to undergo a transformation. 2 This comment was made in casual conversation with Cecilia Diocson in July 2003. Acknowledgements I thank Nick Blomley. Thanks very much to Noel Castree and Melissa Wright for their editorial assistance. and the rest in Southeast Asia. 1 . neo-liberalism collapses moral and political rationalities into the economic. A key moment of dispossession might be to recognize what these women experienced long before their murders. and the consequences of such freedom and responsibility are both individualized and moralized. and for the opportunity to bring this paper to completion as the Antipode Lecture at the 2005 annual meetings of the Association of American Geographers. which makes it possible to prosecute Canadians for sexual abuse of children outside of Canada. Canada and Ireland. to be beside oneself through grief. 5 Brown (2003) is cautioning for more rigour in conceptualizations of neo-liberalism. but could be killed (or let die) with impunity (because they had been excluded from juridical law). 4 Bhabha (2004) chronicles more recent attacks on birthright citizenship in the United States. Homo sacer was a position conferred by ancient Roman law upon those who could not be ritually sacrificed (because they were outside divine law and their deaths thus had no value to the gods). the University of Minnesota and University of Toronto. is the first Canadian to be charged under Canada’s new ‘‘sex tourism law’’. and Joel Wainwright for their close readings of earlier drafts of this manuscript. Tokyo Keizai University. Rather than returning the murdered women to us—through the conventions of family. Butler develops this analysis through the concept of mourning. 3 To modern ears the name is deceptive. Ó 2005 Editorial Board of Antipode. Derek Gregory. The accused. or abstract ideals of human dignity and respect. arguing that neo-liberalism draws on a very specific and especially brutal variant of economic liberalism. I have benefited hugely from thoughtful and probing responses to presentations given at U. and Heidi Nast for her comments as referee.C. to become dispossessed from ourselves.B. She argues that citizenship has been reduced to an entrepreneurial responsibility for well-being.. This is the chilling process of abandonment within the everyday spaces of our cities. Donald Bakker. Unlike earlier variants of political liberalism. and a normalized passing across the threshold into bare life.

and for sharpening my thinking on this point. 2004). In her view. As she started screaming and yelling. In the case of racialised women. . and it is this distinction that I am pursuing here. However. Anyway. She writes that ‘‘the expulsion of homo sacer is the displacement of one who was already imagined to be inside—he is a useful enigma—an included exclusion’’. it feeds’’ (quoted in Doty 1996:39). 9 Consider US Senator Henry Cabot Lodge’s remark in 1900: ‘‘a native [Filipino] family feeds. utterly excluded. As Peter Fitzpatrick (2001) notes. and another that comes in varied instantiations. I want to take a somewhat different tact. . one entitled: Practicing Democracy—that was being held in the Downtown Eastside. it does not breakfast or dine. The police seemed a little taken aback as well and suddenly everything was strictly by the book. 10 I thank Joel Wainwright for this phrasing. it is also clear that he believes that some lives are barer than others. The role of middle class observers as witnesses who rehabilitate the rights of those who have been cast into bare life is an important one. I bracket this at the moment but this clearly becomes important to an analysis of the racialisation of legal abandonment and in particular the ways that discourses of primitivism naturalise legal abandonment. He was participating in a theatre workshop—ironically. February 2. 11 Consider an email that one of my undergraduate students sent me as I began writing this paper. until suddenly the young woman was taken down to the pavement and put into a choke hold. . We were also able to get the badge numbers of the policemen and called the young woman’s lawyer. He writes: Today was even more intense. she argues. The scene was pretty crazy . with no possibility of return. . They are. but it was amazing how fast the young woman calmed down once she realized that there was a huge crowd of witnesses. One in our group is a first aid attendant and was able to convince the police to let him make sure the young woman (who couldn’t have been more than sixteen) was physically okay. to see what could be done. and argue that contemporary homo sacer is a much more complicated figure in practice than imagined by Agamben. Ó 2005 Editorial Board of Antipode. telling him that several of us had witnessed the affair. It now dwells in the biological body of every living being’’ (Agamben 1998:140). and to pursue what a gendered analysis of homo sacer might look like. certain excluded women—she writes in particular about sex workers—dwell in an entirely different conceptual and legal space than homo sacer. The group was on a smoke break while a couple of policemen were making what appeared to be a routine arrest across the road.1074 6 Antipode This simplifies Agamben’s argument because he is claiming that every individual now contains an unstable mix of bare life and political subjecthood. I guess . . ‘‘Bare life is no longer confined to a particular place or a definite category. 8 Lisa Sanchez (2004) takes a stronger stance and argues that homo sacer is gendered as masculine. Agamben offers two modes of conceiving bare life: one totalizing. But this understanding also reinforces the idea that the Downtown Eastside is truly exceptional. just another day in the downtown eastside. given that entry into citizenship is via bare life. a bunch of us ran over just in time to see one of the officers smack the girl in the back of the head. There must have been about fifteen of us who went over. (email communication. one of the defining moments being the extreme use of force in the arrest of a young woman right outside the rehearsal hall. the state of nature returns and is enfolded into the geographies of private and public in especially problematic ways. as she was spitting up blood and vomiting. 7 Another boundary defined a threshold between civilized life and a state of (uncivilized) nature.

and a tendency to assume a continuing link between aboriginality and the space of the reserve. Second. in the province of Manitoba the 1996 census found that 35% of the province’s natives live in cities. Young and Pritchard (2005). . A recent federal decision not to appeal a court decision about government discrimination against off-reserve natives in relation to a specific training program has been taken by some Native advocates as a decision that will ‘‘completely change the way that Ottawa deals with urban communities. Jennifer England (2004) contrasts two photography shows exhibited in Vancouver in 1998. because some of the photos were provided by family members. for instance. They reason that US media have evinced less interest in the current case because the victims were sex workers and many were aboriginal. to the point where they are more or less rooted in one spot. 18 The media has deployed the same tactic with respect to Donald Bakker.Abandoned Women and Spaces of the Exception 12 1075 de Vries (2003:189) argues that this displays a misunderstanding of the geographies of survival sex work and drug addiction insofar as ‘‘as women get older and become addicted to drugs. First. As an index of this. but about 90 percent of government funding is aimed at reserves (Smith 2004). two telling differences. As in a high school yearbook.’’ 13 These speculations found some slight support in 1999 when four of the missing women were located: two dead and two alive (de Vries 2003:189). and Peters (1998) has argued that the city is especially important to First Nation’s women and to their efforts to create a space for themselves beyond patriarchal relations on reserves. this assumption has been formalized in Canadian laws that have made access to aboriginal rights contingent on residence on a First Nation’s reserve. he could be living next door. In her assessment of photographic representations of women in the Downtown Eastside. whereas the victims of the earlier serial murderer were white and middle class. There are. however. 14 Indeed. 17 This stands in striking contrast to the treatment in New York newspapers of those missing after the September 11 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center. ‘‘The newspaper portraits were of a necessity uniform. the media have abandoned the missing women in numerous ways. He is invariably described as a ‘‘short and balding’’ ‘‘father of a young child’’ who lives in a middle-class neighbourhood (Vancouver Sun 2004). 19 This is also a common strategy among oppositional groups in the Downtown Eastside. everyone memorialized was given equal space and equal treatment’’ (Miller 2003:114). one journalist (Wood 1999a:1999b) received a national award for his investigative reporting on this issue. for instance. and provide what Miller calls ‘‘a narrative DNA’’.’’ whilst ‘‘[e]xperts are divided about whether the court’s decision will oblige the federal government to directly fund urban aboriginal groups’’ (Smith 2004:A7). eroticizes women’s poverty within the Ó 2005 Editorial Board of Antipode. puzzle over the small number of US media violations of the media ban in relation to the trial of the man accused of murdering the missing women (relative to an earlier sensationalized Canadian serial murder case). There is however a persistent inability on the part of non-aboriginal Canadians to imagine First Nations’ peoples permanently settled within the space of the city. She argues that one by a well-known Vancouver photographer. the newspaper editors of the New York Times publicly ‘‘pondered the best strategy for identifying the singularity of each life within the constraints of the form’’ (Miller 2003:114) and lamented the fact that such profiles were but ‘‘a single frame lifted from the unrecountable complexity of a lived life’’ (quoted in Miller). However. these (typically smiling) portraits were accompanied by written anecdotes that were meant to individuate. Lincoln Clarkes. 16 It would be unfair to overextend this point. they become less transient. including some that I do not explore. the Vancouver man accused of sex torture in January 2004. Yet more than 50% of First Nation’s people in Canada now live in urban areas. 15 It should be acknowledged that some media coverage was both effective and highly praised—in fact. In other words.

He has made a complaint to the European Court of Justice demanding that his name be removed and that he be paid damages. tightly bounded space’’ (91) by showing images of Downtown Eastside women with their families moving in and out of this neighbourhood (on public transit for instance). This disrupts the stereotype that these women are entrapped by and in fact synonymous with the space of the Downtown Eastside. Translated by V Binetti and C Casarino. The Vancouver Sun. the changing regulation of prostitution in Vancouver over the last 30 years has forced sex workers into increasingly marginal and deserted locations in the city (de Vries 2003). January 28:A1 de Vries M (2003) Missing Sarah: A Vancouver Woman Remembers Her Vanished Sister. The Dutch government continues.’’ differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies 15:1–31 Butler J (2004) Precarious Life: The Powers of Mourning and Violence. . however. Translated by D Heller-Roazen. Translated by D Heller-Roazen. with the trip by advocates for drug addicts outside of the Downtown Eastside into the centre of official local political life: City Hall. Sison was recognized by the Dutch government as a political refugee and is thus protected from expulsion. 21 An exiled Filipino revolutionary. to refuse admission and rights of residence. total 31. 20 For instance.p. Brown W (2004) Tolerance and/or Equality’’ The ‘‘Jewish Question’’ and the ‘‘Woman Question. New York: Zone Books Agamben G (2005) State of Exception. References Agamben G (1998) Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life. A similar comparison could be made between two important and widely aired films that have been made about the Downtown Eastside: Through a Blue Lens. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press Agamben G (2000b) Remnants of Auschwitz: The Witness and the Archive. n. The former video—made in collaboration with Vancouver police— plays directly with the theme of frontier (England 2004) and the latter begins. Professor Sison exists within the state of the exception. London: Verso Culbert L (2004) Nine more women linked to Pickton case. and notes in particular the productive way that the latter exhibit ‘‘challenges an outsider’s view of the community as a homogeneous.1076 Antipode confined spaces of the back alleys of the Downtown Eastside. Minneapolis: University of Minneapolis Press Ó 2005 Editorial Board of Antipode. He was stranded while visiting Holland in 1987 when the Aquino government cancelled his passport and thus legally abandoned him as a citizen of the Philippines. significantly. Globe and Mail. and Fix: Story of an Addicted City. She contrasts this to a collaboration between an artist and nine Downtown Eastside women. Translated by K Attell. January 17:A7 Bhabha J (2004) A ‘‘mere fortuity’’ of birth? Are children citizens? differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies 15:91–117 Brown W (2003) Neo-liberalism and the End of Liberal Democracy theory& event 7:1. Professor Sison is currently included on the US list of ‘‘Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons’’ and on the list of terrorists of the Council of the European Union and Commission of the European Communities. Stanford: Stanford University Press Agamben G (2000a) Means without End: Notes on Politics. Canada: Penguin Doty R L (1996) Imperial Encounters. Chicago: University of Chicago Press Armstrong J (2004) Woman’s remains identified on B C farm.

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