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Human mobility and migration conceived as inherent dimension of human life


By IMPRI Team
#IMPRI Center for Work and Welfare (CWW), IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi, organized a book discussion on “Home, Belonging and Memory in Migration: Leaving and Living” – #WebPolicyTalk.
Dr Sadan Jha (Associate Professor), Centre for Social Studies, Surat and Prof Pushpendra (Professor), Mumbai Campus, and, Chairperson, Centre for Development Practice and Research, Patna, Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) were the editor and speaker for the discussion. The distinguished panel included Prof Anjali Gera Roy (Professor), Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur; Dr Deepra Dandekar (Research Fellow), India, Indian Ocean, Contested Religion, Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient, Berlin and Prof Dilip Menon (Director), Centre for Indian Studies in Africa, and, Mellon Chair in Indian Studies, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. The discussants included Dr Asha Singh (Assistant Professor in Gender Studies), Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta and Dr Swati Mantri, Social Researcher, Sociologist and Social Anthropologist. Prof Prabhu Mohapatra, Department of History, University of Delhi was the Chair for the event.
Prof Prabhu began the discussion by expressing how beautiful and fantastic the book is, he also appreciated the book being launched at an appropriate time – when migration is vulnerable, ambiguous and resistant. He stated how ‘notion of belonging’ comes into picture through this book. During pandemic reverse migration bought two things into light one i.e. migration is a sense of loss(unbelonging) and other desire to belong to place other than home.
He talked about the transcending of boundaries is a great achievement but can’t rest at this level. Also, mentioned the intertwining of social realties of objective structure with subjective experience. Prof. Prabhu was also fascinated by the idea of migration making villages in one of the articles in the book. He also talked about the ‘notion of simultaneity’ mentioned in article related to Konkan. He stated that migration studies are more of temporal phenomenon rather than in a spatial sense. Lastly, he raised questions about the political implications of migration and the biological diversion of migration.
He started the discussion by highlighting how this book acts as a mix of selective papers. He stated that this book connects home, belonging and memory by delving deep into migrant subject wise. He highlighted how this book doesn’t romanticize the idea of belonging. He discussed about the awareness of the risk of normalizing migration. He also talked about the fact that migration can’t be treated as near objects that are devoid of sociality and subjectivity. Prof Pushpendra also stated the dis-migrantization and migrantization of research culture initiating a process of normalization. He questioned the figure of migration as a modern conception. He stated the making of migration subjectivity as complex. He talked how scholars have hardly paid attention to belongingness of labour migrants. Lastly, he states that book addresses the complicated relationship between belonging and identity.
Dr Sadan begins by talking about simultaneity in each paper about spaces which they thought were natural. He talks about politics as series of intervention. Dr Sadan talks emphasized upon the centrality of migration in making of society. He talks about avoiding integration which primarily pushes migration to acquire a label of others. He also addresses the humble attempts made by them to fly issues related to migration in terms of ambiguity, fluidity and fixed meaning.
Prof Anjali began by stressing upon no rom for non-elite migrants. She stated this book as an eye-opener which brought in new narratives and perspectives ranging from gender, caste, ethnicity etc. Though she bought into picture the fact that no specific relation or connection between internal and international migration. She states how this book focuses on different categories of migrants, variety of migrants and apart from these the presence of both qualitative and quantitative data analysis makes it worth reading. She stresses upon question like notion of original home, nostalgia for home or how strong the connection with original home is or even for refugees for whom original home doesn’t bring ack happy memories. Prof Anjali talks about layers of home and the nostalgia attached with living and leaving place. She also brought into picture and discussed the importance of folk music in expressing belonging to home. Lastly, she ended with questioning the fact that homes can co-exist.
Dr Deepra began by stating this book as correctly grounded textbook. She states the attachment to physical soil is like memory ownership or emotional ownership feelings. She also highlights – out migration can also be desired by few individuals which breaks the attachment cycle in a recyclable form for them in stages. She also stated that migrants build financial networks for those left behind and gain social status at home increasing their decision-making power. Dr Deepra highlights the migrant problem at global level as a gender issue with unwanted bags of rural and uncivilised hypermasculinity. She states how women gets dependent while male migrants get visible as leaders even if women contribute equally through informal labour migration. She later discussed about the partition migrants and exposure to migrants in form of songs or words like Pardesi. Dr Deepra talks about married women migrants whether in today’s time or during Lord Rama’s time. She states homelessness feeling constitutes a powerful political discourse about emotions. She ended by stating that migration emotions are political emotions.
Prof Dilip began by expressing his views on how excellent this book is which caters as a resource as well as a pointer for new direction. He began by stating human being as a state of motion. He mentioned the few movers in last decade like Sri Lankan, Tamil and recent ones like the Ukrainian people or covid migrants and asks to see them as normal thing. He also expresses the role of folk music and monsoon in migration as rhythm of labour. He emphasized upon ‘Roots and Routes’ has hidden laziness and talks how migration is inclusive of humans, plants and animals. He praises the book for mentioning the words for migrants such as Banjara, Pardesi etc. He also stresses upon the question of why people migrate and what are the push and pull factors. He questions the fact that whether in India we can talk about society at all. Prof Dilip also talks about discourse for citizenship by refugees. He also discusses about affect and subjectivity and unresolved political theory. Lastly, he questions when the question would stop related to where you come from or when would migration stop at all.
Dr Asha began by expressing how enriched her paper is and later talks about the migration literacy for women in Bhojpuri folk music. She talks about the human mobility and migration conceive as an ordinary and inherent dimension of human life. She stresses upon the fact that migration isn’t any event but a constant tussle between migration agencies and larger process. She talks about identity and belonging expressed in various papers whether it is women migration, education migration or marriage migration. She also discusses ‘politics of criminalizing migrants’ in one of the articles of book as beautiful. Lastly, she stresses on unravelling possibilities f feeling of home in spaces of both living and leaving.
Dr Swati began by expressing the multi-vectorial idea of migration as a gradient concept and also talked about the spatial concepts related to migration as dynamic. She highlighted the inter-generational dominant structure within the family as different people have different concepts of where home is. Dr Swati also talks about the correlation between migration, and mobility not about stepping out of a geographical location but being about stepping up. Lastly, she talked about cultural transformation as a motivating factor.

Acknowledgement: Sunishtha Yadav is a research intern at IMPRI

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