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Roadwork: expertise at work building roads in the Maldives

Heslop, Luke and Jeffery, Laura (2020) Roadwork: expertise at work building roads in the Maldives. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 26 (2). 284 - 301. ISSN 1359-0987

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Identification Number: 10.1111/1467-9655.13236


This article engages critically with concepts of ‘skill’, ‘expertise’, and ‘capacity’ as they operate as markers of distinction and domination and shape migratory labour relations among road construction workers from across South Asia in the Maldives archipelago. The article examines roadwork at three levels: the professional biographies leading to ‘flexible specialization’ rather than technical expertise amongst Maldivian managers; the technical expertise and social incorporation of ‘skilled’ Sri Lankan supervisors; and the key material expertise of ‘non-skilled’ Bangladeshi labourers in precarious employment. Whilst discussions of South Asian labour migration have been dominated by caste and class, this article argues that it is important to consider how the cultural production and understanding of concepts such as ‘expertise’, ‘capacity’, and ‘exposure’ at worksites can (also) become distinguishing factors in (hierarchical) migratory labour relations.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2020 The Authors
Divisions: Anthropology
Subjects: J Political Science > JV Colonies and colonization. Emigration and immigration. International migration
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
Date Deposited: 03 Apr 2020 13:30
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2021 02:49

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