Dolly Kikon and Beppe Karlsson
Dolly Kikon and Beppe Karlsson

“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. Since India’s independence, the Northeast frontiers of India continue to capture the limits of India’s cultural and political imagination, and have 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.”
– Beppe Karlsson and Dolly Kikon (2015)

In this episode of AnthroTalking we interview Professor Beppe Karlsson and Dolly Kikon, postdoctoral research fellow, both positioned at the Department of Social Anthropology, Stockholm University, about their current research project The Indian Underbelly: Marginalisation, Migration and State Intervention in the Periphery. We talk about the new liberal state of India, its growing and changing economy and the relationship with the region of Northeast India, consisting of states such as Meghalaya and Nagaland. Simply depicted, the relationship is fractionated. Since independence, certain groups residing in the Northeast have opposed the idea of being part of the new nation-state in the making, accusing mainland India of draining their region of its natural resources. Beppe talks about his previous research in Meghalaya, and how this new project came to grow out of it. He also mentions agriculture, and what happens to it when people decide to migrate. Dolly, who recently came back from fieldwork in Nagaland, tells us about the migrants she met that sought employment at recruitment and grooming centres, along with five star hotels, and the ‘soft skills’ that are required of them.

Published on:

September 16, 2015

Created by:

Kinga Jankus and Fredrik Nyman


India, Northeast India, Kerala, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Mumbai, Migration, Borders, Indigenous people, Soft skills, Embodiments, Neoliberalism, Recruitment, Grooming, Five star hotels

Further information:


Cite as:

Jankus, Kinga and Fredrik Nyman. “Beppe Karlsson and Dolly Kikon on their project ‘The Indian Underbelly’” AnthroTalking: Podcasts at Stockholm University’s Department of Social Anthropology, online September 16, 2015,


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