This presentation examines the intersections of caste and gender in the context of migration, industrial work and urban spaces. Drawing upon fieldwork in Delhi and Ludhiana, it explores how inter-state migrant workers articulate their identities in relation to caste, gender, work, and urban/rural spaces. Migration narratives display a strong undertone of negotiating with traditional village-level hierarchies of caste and gender. In several accounts, while prima facie, the process of migration is strongly represented as a means of breaking away from traditional hierarchies, the intersections of caste and gender underlie the narratives, and these traditional identities often provide context and meaning(s) to how the migration process is envisaged. Migrating for industrial work—from how it is envisioned to how work in the urban context is seen—is not independent of these identities; rather they are reinforced and reconstituted in varied ways. Contemporary forms of employment and urbanisation give rise to localised and fluid meanings of caste and caste identity, and an even more complex intersection with gender.
Eesha Kunduri is a Research Associate at CPR. Her research interests broadly lie in issues of migration, industrialisation and urbanisation, with a focus on the organisation of work and labour markets. She has also been engaged in research on state-citizen relationships in Delhi’s informal settlements, as part of CPR’s urbanisation focus area. Eesha holds a Master’s degree in Development Studies from Ambedkar University, Delhi (AUD), and a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Delhi.
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