ABSTRACT

This chapter analyzes how older domestic workers in Beijing use smartphones and social media for performative motherhood and grandmotherhood in ways demonstrating varying degrees of publicness – through sharing privately received images and videos. It engages in synchronous video chats where all who are copresent become part of the interaction and finally through images posted on WeChat. The chapter highlights how domestic workers in neo/non-liberal China use social media for very public performances of virtual mothering and how this potentially enables immobile mobility. In contexts outside of China, studies have shown how domestic workers use communication technologies, especially for “remote mothering”, or caring for one's children via voice calls and text messaging. Smartphones allowed for immobile mobility and were articulated to this inversion in several ways that displayed various degrees of publicness. The chapter discusses three of these here – the private becoming semipublic, the synchronous public performative and the asynchronous public performative.