Essays in Philosophy

Volume 24, Issue 1/2, January/July 2023

Care Ethics Otherwise

Riikka Prattes
Pages 41-57

Colonial Care
Care in the Service of Whiteness

This article adds to critiques of discourses and practices of care that are enmeshed with coloniality. It does so via examining the prominent model of helping marginalized people through giving them the opportunity to care for themselves and their own by being recruited into paid (care) work, thus, becoming “useful” participants in society. This usefulness is read as a colonial project of subordinate inclusion into neoliberal racial capitalism. A perverse ideology of care is mobilized to extract surplus value from marginalized workers “integrated” into the lower echelons of social reproduction. Using historic and contemporary examples, the argument is developed in three steps: First, I discuss how care workers are included via subordination. Second, I analyze how an inversion of care receiver and caregiver transforms marginalized care workers into recipients of integration measures, rendering their care work invisible. Third, I show how racial usefulness, the interpellation that racialized workers be/come “useful,” is undergirded by productivism within neoliberal racial capitalism.