Ethnic wage-welfare complex: Migration as a lens to understand capitalist landscapes in India

Authors: Mythri Prasad-Aleyamma*, Centre for Place, Culture and Politics, Graduate Center, City University of New York
Topics: Migration, Asia, Development
Keywords: labour, migration, Kerala, India, infrastructural geographies, ports
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/10/2021
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:20 PM
Room: Virtual 38
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper tries to argue that migration provides insights into the shaping of capitalist geography, especially the dialectic between homogenisation and differentiation in the production of space. Taking two field sites in the district of Ernakulam in Kerala, South India where migrant labour from North and North East India work - a port building site and a Sunday market frequented by migrant workers, it analyses wages, place-making and unions as distinct loci around which this dialectic between homogenisation and differentiation plays out. The port building site, managed by capital that is global and heterogeneous, represents a reorganization of space carried out by the state. It involved institutional reworking that facilitated the entry of transnational capital and state rescaling. The Sunday market, on the other hand, is a more complex site where the agency of the migrant labour and that of the state produce a convivial yet politically contested space.

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