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Orange County Housecleaners

By Frank Cancian



Orange County Housecleaners documents the lives of seven women who make their livings cleaning houses in Orange County, California. Of the seven, five are Latina immigrants and two are Orange County natives.

Sara Velazquez came to the United States alone when the youngest of her four children was ten, and found ways to get all of them and her husband from Mexico to Orange County. Sharon Risley earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1990--twenty-six years after a teenage pregnancy destroyed her plans to go from high school to art school. Mimi Lopez was alone on Thanksgiving 1985 when her twin daughters were born in the Miami home where she worked as a nanny.

Each chapter combines a woman's life story told in her own words with Frank Cancian's recent photos of her family, work, and other activities. His introduction to the book gives background on domestic workers in Southern California and on the family situations of immigrant women who leave their children in their native countries while providing for them by working in the United States.

Read the June 27, 2006, feature "The secret lives of house keepers" in the Orange County Register.

Visit the author's website at www.frankcancian.com

Contributor Bios
Frank Cancian is professor emeritus of anthropology at the University of California, Irvine. He is also the author of The Decline of Community in Zinacantan: Economy, Public Life, and Social Stratification, 1960-1987.