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Migration and the invisible economies of care: production, social reproduction and seasonal migrant labour in India

Shah, Alpa ORCID: 0000-0003-1233-6516 and Lerche, Jens (2020) Migration and the invisible economies of care: production, social reproduction and seasonal migrant labour in India. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers. ISSN 0020-2754 (In Press)

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This article focuses on the processes of migrant labour exploitation which is crucial for capitalist growth and the inequalities it generates. Ethnographic research conducted in different sites across India shows how patterns of seasonal labour migration are driven by class relations marked by hierarchies of identity (caste and tribe) and the spatial geopolitics of internal colonialism (region); differences that are mobilized for accumulation. Labour migration scholarship has mainly explored sites of production but here we extend recent ‘Social Reproduction Theory’ and an older literature on labour migration and reproduction to argue that the intimate relationship between production and social reproduction is crucial to the exploitation of migrant labour. We show that labour migration scholarship, politics and policies must place centre-stage the analysis of invisible economies of care which take place across spatiotemporally divided households, both in the place of migration and in the home regions of migrants. Furthermore, we develop recent work on Social Reproduction Theory and migration to argue that an analysis of kinship (gender over generations, not just gender) is crucial to these invisible economies of care. This analysis is important in showing the machinations of capitalist growth and for political alternatives.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Divisions: Anthropology
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
Date Deposited: 30 Jun 2020 14:33
Last Modified: 03 Jul 2020 23:29

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