Raising Brooklyn

Nannies, Childcare, and Caribbeans Creating Community

224 pages

8 illustrations

January, 2011

ISBN: 9780814791431



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Tamara R. Mose is Associate Professor of Sociology at Brooklyn College, City University of New York. She is the author of Raising Brooklyn: Nannies, Childcare, and Caribbeans Creating Community.

All books by Tamara R. Mose

Stroll through any public park in Brooklyn on a weekday afternoon and you will see black women with white children at every turn. Many of these women are of Caribbean descent, and they have long been a crucial component of New York’s economy, providing childcare for white middle- and upper-middleclass families. Raising Brooklyn offers an in-depth look at the daily lives of these childcare providers, examining the important roles they play in the families whose children they help to raise. Tamara Mose Brown spent three years immersed in these Brooklyn communities: in public parks, public libraries, and living as a fellow resident among their employers, and her intimate tour of the public spaces of gentrified Brooklyn deepens our understanding of how these women use their collective lives to combat the isolation felt during the workday as a domestic worker.

Though at first glance these childcare providers appear isolated and exploited—and this is the case for many—Mose Brown shows that their daily interactions in the social spaces they create allow their collective lives and cultural identities to flourish. Raising Brooklyn demonstrates how these daily interactions form a continuous expression of cultural preservation as a weapon against difficult working conditions, examining how this process unfolds through the use of cell phones, food sharing, and informal economic systems. Ultimately, Raising Brooklyn places the organization of domestic workers within the framework of a social justice movement, creating a dialogue between workers who don’t believe their exploitative work conditions will change and an organization whose members believe change can come about through public displays of solidarity.


  • “[An] engrossing look at the Caribbean community of child care workers in Brooklyn, NY”

    Library Journal

  • “Mose Brown has entered the hidden realm of West Indian childcare workers and produced a remarkable picture of urban life. This is fine grained, careful ethnography that reveals the taken for granted intimacies and politics of everyday experience.”

    —Mitchell Duneier, author of Sidewalk

  • “Vividly written…Mose Brown’s own voice is especially poignant; her reflexivity about her relationships to others as a researcher, fellow New Yorker and mother is a model for contemporary ethnography.”

    —Joanna Dreby, author of Divided by Borders: Mexican Migrants and their Children

  • &8220;Outsiders can only wonder what West Indian caregivers say to each other as they sit on park benches watching their charges. Mose Brown gives us the answer, in an insightful and fascinating account of how these women create their own social worlds in public spaces. A revealing sociological portrait of women whose work and struggles command respect.”

    —Julia Wrigley, author of Education and Gender Equity

  • “A sensitive and nuanced glimpse into the lives of the women who raise so many of Brooklyn’s—and America’s—children. Mose Brown has given us a deeply compelling and timely ethnography.”

    —Philip Kasinitz, co-author of Inheriting the City

  • “Brown has done a masterful job—as a participant observer—of reflecting the everyday world of female domestic laborers. While she, herself, straddles two worlds—belonging to an Afro Caribbean community that is victimized by racism while simultaneously having the financial resources to hire a part-time nanny to care for her two children—her ethnic identity allowed her access to an insular community. The result is both fascinating and compelling.”


  • "In Raising Brooklyn: Nannies, Childcare, asn Caribbeans Creating Community, Tamara Mose Brown gives a public voice to the concerns, hopes, and fears of West Indian child-care workers of Brooklyn, a tight-knit community of first-generation women who tend thousands of the city's children each day in its public parks."

    —Catherine Bailey, Zocalo Public Square

  • "Despite economic and cultural marginalization, the West Indian child-care providers profiled in this ethnography carve out strong identities. Congregating in public spaces, such as parks, in majority-white, gentrified Brooklyn, the nannies assert themselves as integral members of their neighborhoods." 

    Ms. Magazine

  • “Part of a vibrant tradition of ethnographic studies of domestic work, Tamara Mose Brown’s Raising Brooklyn: Nannies, Childcare, and Caribbeans Creating Community provides a richly detailed description of the community networks of West Indian childcare providers in gentrifying Brooklyn. Drawing on three years of research, including both participant observation and in-depth interviews, Brown illuminates how these women navigate their employee-employer relations, as well as race, class, and gender categories as they move between private and public space."

    The Teachers College Record

  • "The employment relationship between women illustrates how gender intersects with other factors (race, class, nationality, citizenship) to reveal deep meaning in the lifes and work of the women on both sides of the social divide"

    —E. Hu-DeHart, Choice

  • "In Raising Brooklyn, public spaces and social networks become the context for an engaging narrative."

    —Rosanna Hertz, Women's Review of Books

  • "In Raising Brooklyn, Tamara Rose Brown presents a vibrant account of the robust social worlds created by West Indian babysitters...[she] has taken us inside a frequently seen but little-understood social world and has unpacked how it works to nurture its members."

    —Cameron Macdonald, American Journal of Sociology