Results and Trends II: the Gulf as continuing aspiration

By Caroline Osella|April 16, 2019|project outputs, project results and findings, Uncategorized|0 comments

In Calicut, many people describe Gulf migration as continuing to be a normalised part of life, expecting it to continue, although the benefits are not as strong as they once were. Gulf wages have dipped relative to Kerala; costs of living have soared in the Gulf. The older generation recount spectacular gains and startling differences between Kerala and the Gulf which the post 1990s generation have not seen. But because

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Results and Trends I: Mavelikkara, Calicut and Mattancherry

By Caroline Osella|April 13, 2019|project outputs, project results and findings, Uncategorized|0 comments

Throughout the 1990s, I worked in a rural paddy-growing area near Mavelikkara town, and wrote about some of the ways in which Gulf migration was shifting the social landscape. Some families from Hindu lower castes were achieving significant social mobility through remittances; their success was having a wider effect upon longstanding caste hierarchies. In the old agrarian economy, caste status and wealth had been tightly connected, with landowning Syrian Christian,

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What Happens When Gender Regimes Collide?

By Caroline Osella|March 27, 2019|project outputs|0 comments

The Gulf is arguably the most extreme example of superdiversity. In public space, we make snap judgements about each other and work to understand how we need to present ourselves to others. This process becomes very complex when public space norms are not singular or agreed upon. (And if, as anthropologists recognise, ‘culture‘ has always been plural, then the places where this is evidently the case are multiplying, while the

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When expectations of marriage and family shift, what does it mean for migrants?

By Caroline Osella|March 26, 2019|Media, project outputs, Uncategorized|0 comments

I wrote a while ago about the rapid transformations post 1990s in young people’s expectations of what a marriage ought to be, what a household should consist of, and what constitutes a good family life. Kerala’s men these days are under pressure to act not only as breadwinners (which has long been the case in this state where women have low workforce participation and where a non-working wife is a component

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REALM PIs Meetup at NYUAD March 15th/ 16th

By Caroline Osella|March 10, 2019|project results and findings, Uncategorized|0 comments

Helen Underhill (the UK project assistant) and I are excited to be travelling to NYUAD in Abu Dhabi this week to a meetup of REALM project PIs. We will all be presenting our material (which for some folk, such as the economists, is ‘data’, but for ethnographers like myself is more loosely ‘outcome’). I’ve got 76 interviews with Kerala migrants and a lot of fieldnotes from ongoing conversations that I’ve been

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Can Europe Learn From UAE Diversity?

By Caroline Osella|March 6, 2019|Media, project outputs|0 comments

I’ve been working for many years now between India and the Gulf and am not naive about how remittance and migration economies work, nor about how states operate. I have to begin with this disclaimer, because in a landscape of binary thinking and quick-fire analysis, it is easy to jump into judgement. My close ethnographic work among a range of migrants – many of whom are skilled technical and professional,

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Border Ethnography: Part 2

By Caroline Osella|February 10, 2019|project outputs, Uncategorized|0 comments

I wrote in my last post about the ways in which long-term ethnographic work opens up unanticipated themes which then demand our attention. Border ethnography (see examples here , here and here) has pushed itself into the REALM project. I am currently writing up a traditional academic paper about a complex case history of an Indian migrant worker who was badly treated by his (UK passport holding) ex-pat employer in the Gulf. The

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Kerala’s Migration Culture: fostering global consciousness and empathy?

By Caroline Osella|November 18, 2018|Media, project outputs, Uncategorized|0 comments

  Kerala movies used to be known around India for having a non-commercial artsy stream. But to be honest, when I first visited the state in the late 80s and asked people about these films, nobody in my circles had seen them – or even heard of them. Movies from directors like Adoor Gopalakrishnan were clearly part of an elite movement of intellectuals and artists. The Malayalis I knew enjoyed

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“We Built This Place – We Run This Place”.

By Caroline Osella|November 15, 2018|Media, Uncategorized|0 comments

  Something I’ve always heard from Malayali migrants around the Gulf is that “We built this place” and often, too, especially since Emiratisation / Omanisation / Saudization, “We run this place. How do they think they could they manage without us?” This music video from Saleh Haddad / Abdulkhaliq speaks to that. There’s some incoherence at work here in the cultural signs: the kafil / sponsor-employer is dressed as Saudi, while the main

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