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Phone ClonesAuthenticity Work in the Transnational Service Economy$
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Kiran Mirchandani

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780801450648

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801450648.001.0001

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The Authentic Clone

(p.1) Introduction
Phone Clones

Kiran Mirchandani

Cornell University Press

This book explores how the negotiation of authenticity becomes a central part of transnational customer service work as a result of the exchange of labor and capital that occurs in the context of national histories and power inequities. More specifically, it considers how workers housed in cubicled call centers in India enter into a complex interplay of colonial histories, class relations, and national interests, which are embedded within their authenticity work—the work of being oneself and simultaneously like someone faraway imagines one should be. It shows that becoming a phone clone involves emulating, through voice, an ideal transnational call center worker who is both close to and distant from customers in the West. By studying the experiences of Indian customer service agents, this book sheds light on a wide range of service-related activities that cross national borders, from Filipino nannies refashioning themselves to clone faraway employers' visions of ideal caregivers, to health workers in Mexico servicing American medical tourists.

Keywords:   authenticity, transnational customer service, call centers, India, colonial histories, class relations, authenticity work, customer service agents, phone clone

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