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[Excerpt] What happens when you need to be yourself and like someone else at the same time? This is the central demand placed on transnational service workers, who form a large and growing part of the global economy. In response, workers perform an elaborate set of largely invisible activities, which I term authenticity work. Based on interviews with one hundred transnational call center workers in India this book describes their authenticity work as they refashion themselves into ideal Indian workers who can expertly provide synchronous, voice-to-voice customer service for clients in the West. The experiences of Indian call center workers sheds light on a wide range of service-related activities that cross national borders. Filipino nannies refashion themselves to clone faraway employers' visions of ideal caregivers. Health workers in Mexico servicing American medical tourists strive to package the quality of their services in terms of Western professional practice. The exchange of labor and capital occurs in the context of national histories and power inequities that make the negotiation of authenticity a central part of transnational service work.


The abstract, table of contents, and first twenty-five pages are published with permission from the Cornell University Press. For ordering information, please visit the Cornell University Press.