Cleaning up the "dirt": a study of Maggie Gee's My Cleaner

Öztabak Avcı E.

JOURNAL OF POSTCOLONIAL WRITING, vol.50, pp.478-491, 2014 (AHCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 50
  • Publication Date: 2014
  • Doi Number: 10.1080/17449855.2013.849291
  • Journal Indexes: Arts and Humanities Citation Index (AHCI), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.478-491
  • Keywords: Maggie Gee, servants, dirt, domestic labor, globalization, Englishness
  • Middle East Technical University Affiliated: Yes


Maggie Gee's 2005 novel, My Cleaner, is critical of international divisions of domestic labor in the neocolonial world, which reproduce global hierarchies of class, gender and race within middle-class households of "developed" countries. Not only does Gee critically explore domestic service in today's London from a global perspective, but she also makes use of the relationship between Mary Tendo (an immigrant servant woman from Uganda, one of Britain's former colonies) and her white, middle-class English employer, Vanessa Henman, to explore the tensions, contestations and renegotiations performed in contemporary narrations of English identity. However, Mary's smooth relationship with the English language, as well as with her national identity, signals the lack of a postcolonial approach in the novel to hierarchies played out in these sites. The aim of this article is to explore such ambivalences in the portrayal of a black female character in Gee's My Cleaner.