Friday, November 28, 2014

Call for Papers:Redefining Labour Roles in a Globalizing India

Open Call for Papers: Redefining Labour Roles in a Globalizing India

Key Theme: Labour anomalies and contradictions of a growing economy.

Date:  October 2015

Venue: New Delhi, India

Abstract Submission: 200-500 words (with author's name and full affiliation) to be submitted by January 1st 2015 to Shalini Grover:


Arup Mitra (Institute of Economic Growth)

Shalini Grover (Institute of Economic Growth and Edinburgh University)

Patricia Jeffery (Edinburgh University)

Tom Chambers (Sussex University)


This conference will probe how labour roles are being redefined in a globalizing India. While there has been much emphasis on India's 'emerging work and entrepreneurial cultures' our interest pertains to labour 'anomalies' and 'contradictions' that have gone unnoticed in the anthropological corpus, as well as in national macro trends. We perceive labour roles and relations to be a wide field in India, where transformations in the informal and formal sectors may be antithetical to notions of 'progressive' social development 1) Our focus lies in foregrounding features such as 'sliding down the labour hierarchy' (e.g. reduced status or social position) as a matter of individual choice or necessity. For example, following the publication of the 2004-5, National Sample Survey Data (NSSO), the domestic service sector has prompted a provocative debate on the female labour force participation and existing labour laws. Domestic work is currently one of the largest growing sectors for female employment in India. This low-status and stigmatized occupation is diversifying into specialized markets such as 'care work', 'nursing,' etc. The labour market is supported by training institutes, NGOs, and entrepreneurs who encourage skill enhancement. How do modern domestic workers (simultaneously labeled as 'servants') perceive their new subjectivities in a transmuting labour market? 2) Furthermore, paradigms that problematize labour roles beyond 'normative exploitation' and 'gender hierarchy' will add substance to our analysis. Informal sector jobs allied with feudal dependency and exploitation need re-visiting in light of men and women exercising newly available options and enacting aspirations in the contemporary liberalizing moment. Similarly, sectors such as IT (information technology) are associated with youth and sexual liberation, while women's entry (or incorporation) into male dominated family owned business is normally conceptualized as a conservative step. 3) Of significance, is whether cohorts of workers have moved to other occupations or adopted new identities such as from hereditary to non-hereditary fields. We seek explorations on forms of resistance in relation to identity and everyday labour, especially amongst subaltern groups, minorities, and the lowest castes. 4) Another area is subcontracting practices between the formal and the informal sector. In the recent years some evidence suggests that large scale subcontracting from the formal sector has introduced quality control in the informal sector which in turn has encouraged entrepreneurs in the informal sector to employ workers on regular terms - 'regularity in the irregular sector.' Whether this has led to improvement in work conditions is a question that needs to be examined. 5) Papers should preferable be based on detailed ethnography, work-life histories, narratives, biographies, multi-disciplinary analytical connections, and historical analysis. 6) We invite a diversity of ideas (e.g. contexts of migration, globalization, diaspora), and are open to queries from contributors.'

Potential Funders:

We are in the process of applying for funds and the potential institutions are the Indian Council of Social Science Research, ESRC, British Academy, International Labour Organization (ILO), and our respective universities.

Publication Goal:

A special issue in an international journal and an edited volume.

Profile of the Organizers:

Professor Arup Mitra:

Arup Mitra is Professor of Economics, Institute of Economic Growth, Delhi. His research area encompasses issues related to labour and welfare, urban development, industrial growth and productivity, infrastructure development and gender inequalities. He has published four books on inclusive growth, urbanization, informal sector employment, slums and poverty. His latest book has been published by Springer in 2013. Besides, he has to his credit more than 100 research papers in various journals and edited volumes.

Dr. Shalini Grover: 

Shalini Grover received her doctoral training from the Department of Anthropology, University of Sussex. She has a BA from Delhi University and Cambridge University (MA Cantab 1999), and an MA from the London School of Economics. She is currently Associate Professor at the Institute of Economic Growth (Sociology Unit). Grover has worked extensively on the anthropology of love and marriage in urban India, with a focus on the working classes. Her monograph (2011) Marriage, Love, Caste, and Kinship Support: Lived Experiences of the Urban Poor in India was published by Social Science Press in 2011 and is soon to be published as a Second Edition. Her journal articles have featured in Contributions to Indian Sociology, Asian Journal of Women's Studies, and the recently edited volume - Marrying in South Asia (Orient Blackswan). Currently, her research interests' center on Western expatriate cultures in India (race, class and migration positioning in a post-colonial context) and employer-domestic worker labour relations. She is currently completing a final piece of legal ethnography on divorce behaviour in the urban middle class family.

Professor Patricia Jeffery:

Patricia Jeffery has been Professor of Sociology at the University of Edinburgh since 1996. Since 1982, she has focused on gender politics, childbearing, social demography, education, and communal politics in rural north India and she has published widely on these topics. In 2009-2010 she held a British Academy/Leverhulme Trust Senior Research Fellowship and Leverhulme Research Fellowship. She is co-investigator on the ESRC funded project on Rural Change and anthropological Knowledge in post-colonial India: A comparative 'restudy' of F. G. Bailey, Adrian C. Mayer and David F. Pocock and a member of the Council of the British Association for South Asian Studies.

Tom Chambers:

Tom Chambers has recently completed an ESRC funded PhD in Social Anthropology at the University of Sussex, where he is currently employed as an associate tutor.  His research focuses on a Muslim craft community in North India and considers questions around labour, religion, culture, identity and migration.  His work utilises 'informality', not just to understand labour and conditions of employment, but also networks, connections, niches and spaces of production and exchange. In so doing he is interested in how Islam interacts with economy, how supply chains act to incorporate local economic and cultural structures, and how identity based networks have interacted with structural factors to shape migrant pathways within India and to the Arabian Gulf.





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