The Labour of Love: Seasonal Migration from Jharkhand to the Brick Kilns of Other States in India

Shah, Alpa. 2006. The Labour of Love: Seasonal Migration from Jharkhand to the Brick Kilns of Other States in India. Contributions to Indian Sociology, 40(1), pp. 91-118. ISSN 00699667 [Article]

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Seasonal casual labour migration in India has conventionally been understood as the result of extreme poverty whereby villagers are forced to become migrants for the dry six months to subsist or merely survive. This article draws on fieldwork in a village in Jharkhand and a brick kiln in West Bengal to argue that migrants do not understand their movement in economic terms alone. Many see the brick kilns as a temporary space of freedom to escape problems back home, explore a new country, gain independence from parents or live out prohibited amorous relationships. It is suggested that Jharkhandi activists and policy-makers’ construction of such migration as a ‘problem’ is as much about their vision of how the new tribal state ought to be as about exploitation. Migration to the kilns is seen by them as a threat to the purity and regulation of the social and sexual tribal citizen. This moralising perspective creates a climate that paradoxically encourages many young people to flee to the brick kilns where they can live ‘freely’. In this way, the new puritanism at home helps to reproduce the conditions for capitalist exploitation and the extraction of surplus value.

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1 January 2006Published

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12 Mar 2009 15:41

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29 Apr 2020 15:27

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