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Migration Patterns

Life in the Indian City: A Case Study on Female Migrant Workers in Upscale Retail Sectors in Delhi

Author : Priyanka Dass Saharia | 2016
Published By: Delhi School of Economics

The city intensifies the complexity of ‘social’ with that of the ‘material’. The 'urban' experience is a sum of various complexities, differences and strangeness yet how all these multiplicities get accommodated in one unitary frame through this 'global city' dream. Through the twin ideas of ‘disjunctive inclusions’ and ‘exclusive connections’, the cosmopolis of Delhi opens up spaces to young female immigrants from Manipuri and Nagaland in forms of upscale retail ventures; a part of a larger network of global trade. These ‘manufactured’ spaces serve primarily two objectives; provides an opportunity for generation of an income for these ‘marginalised’ community which is the bedrock for the ‘inclusion’ into the city life, and on the other hand, by the ‘exclusive’ nature of their services, the highly ‘sexualised’, ‘orientalised’ roles they are made to play which packages their ‘ethnicity’ as an ‘exotica’. These spaces realise the aspirations of these women for money yet the ‘urban’ experience fragments the idea of a ‘national identity’ through discrimination on lines of ‘ethnicity’. The relations of production and cognitive framing of people and things gives rise to a space where ‘ethnicity’ is intertwined in the articulations of its form, peculiarities and contours. Through a rationalised view of the instrumentality of the ‘ethnic’ body and its labour in the market via logic of ‘productive sacrifice’, these bodies are represented as ‘exotically saleable’. It is a complex mix of co-dependency premised on a kind of ‘duality’ where ‘ethnicity’ becomes the constitutive dimension of the city’s modernity becoming a weapon of assertion and resistance yet a divisive wall between its inhabitants. This division manifested itself in urban designs, planning, zoning, appropriations of utility, distribution of wealth and power. This ethnographic work studies the lived realities of these women through their ‘voice’ and the ways in which they negotiate with their differences in urban spaces to integrate into the urban whole.

URL : https://worldconferences.net/proceedings/icssr2015/full%20paper/IC%20067%20CASE%20STUDY%20ON%20THE%20FEMALE%20IMMIGRANT%20WORKERS%20OF%20NORTHEAST%20INDIA%20-%20PRIYANKA.pdf

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