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Experiencing space–time: the stretched lifeworlds of migrant workers in India

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  • Ben Rogaly
  • Susan Thieme

Abstract

In the relatively rare instances when the spatialities of temporary migrant work, workers’ journeys, and labour-market negotiations have been the subject of scholarly attention, there has been little work that integrates time into the analysis. Building on a case study of low-paid and insecure migrant manual workers in the context of rapid economic growth in India, we examine both material and subjective dimensions of these workers’ spatiotemporal experiences. What does it mean to live life stretched out, multiply-attached to places across national space? What kinds of place attachments emerge for people temporarily sojourning in, rather than moving to, new places to reside and work? Our analysis of the spatiotemporalities of migrant workers’ experiences in India suggests that, over time, this group of workers use their own agency to seek to avoid the experience of humiliation and indignity in employment relations. Like David Harvey, we argue that money needs to be integrated into such analysis, along with space and time. The paper sheds light on processes of exclusion, inequality and differentiation, unequal power geometries, and social topographies that contrast with neoliberalist narratives of ‘Indian shining’. Keywords: space–time, Harvey, temporary migration, migrant workers, India

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  • Ben Rogaly & Susan Thieme, 2012. "Experiencing space–time: the stretched lifeworlds of migrant workers in India," Environment and Planning A, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 44(9), pages 2086-2100, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:pio:envira:v:44:y:2012:i:9:p:2086-2100
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