Bengt G. Karlsson, Professor, Department of Social Anthropology, Stockholm University, and Dolly Kikon, Postdoctoral researcher, Department of Social Anthropology, Stockholm University

Leaving the Land. Indigenous Migration from the Resource Frontier to the Urban Sprawl in India

In the last decade, large numbers of indigenous youths from the uplands of Northeast India have migrated to metropolitan cities across India as migrant workers. In this presentation we highlight the reasons behind this increasing trend of indigenous migration from Northeast India. Since India’s independence in 1947, the Northeast frontiers of India continues to capture the limits of India’s cultural and political imagination, and has remained peripheral in the national discourse on citizenship, human rights and economic development. While the region and its citizens continue to be refracted through the prism of violence, militarization, backward indigenous tribes, and the extractive resource regime, the increasing trend of migration from this frontier region offers us new insights about the insecurities, desires, and expectations of the indigenous migrants in the global economy in India. What kinds of transformations in the highlands of Northeast India have pushed hundreds of thousands of indigenous people to leave home in search of livelihood options across urban India? What are the daily experiences of vulnerability and marginality these indigenous labor force encounter? In this seminar, we present our multi-sited ethnographic reflections and preliminary notes from our research project in India titled, "The Indian Underbelly: Marginalisation, Migration and State Intervention in the Periphery".

Find out more about the Migration cluster at the Department of Social Anthropology.

All seminars in the series.