Book Discussion • The Migration-Development Regime: How Class Shapes Indian Emigration

February 1, 2023 @ 5:00 PM - 7:00 PM
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Book Discussion: The Migration-Development Regime: How Class Shapes Indian Emigration ( Oxford University Press, 2022)

Abstract: How can we explain the causes and effects of global migration from the perspective of sending states and migrants themselves? The Migration and Development Regime introduces a novel analytical framework to help answer this question in India, the world’s largest emigrant exporter and the world’s largest remittance-receiving country. Drawing on archival analysis of Indian government documents, a new database of Indian migrants’ transnational organizations, and unique interviews with poor and elite Indian emigrants, recruiters, and government officials, this book exposes the vital role the Indian state, as well as its poor and elite emigrants, have long played in forging and legitimizing class inequalities within India through their management of international emigration. Since the 1800s, the Indian state has differentially used poor and elite emigrants to accelerate domestic economic growth at the cost of class inequalities while still retaining political legitimacy. At times, the Indian state has forbidden emigration; at other times, it has promoted it. At times, Indian emigrants have brought substantial material inflows; at other times, they have brought new ideas to support new development agendas within India. But throughout, Indian emigration practices have deepened class inequalities by imposing different regulations, acquiring different benefits from different classes of emigrants, and making new class pacts–all while remaining invisible in political and academic discussions on Indian development. On the flip side, since the early 1900s, poor and elite emigrants have resisted and re-shaped Indian development in response to state migration practices. By taking this long and class-based view, this book recasts contemporary migration not simply as a problematic function of “neoliberalism” or as a development panacea for sending countries but as a long and dynamic historical process that sending states and migrants have long tried to manage. In doing so, it redefines the primary problems of migration, exposes the material and ideological impact that migration has on sending state development, and isolates what is truly novel about contemporary migration.

Author: Rina Agarwala is a Professor of Sociology at Johns Hopkins University. Agarwala’s research and teaching focus on international development, labour, migration, gender, social movements, and Indian politics. She has published over 30 articles and three books. Her first book, Informal Labor, Formal Politics and Dignified Discontent in India (Cambridge, 2013), won the Outstanding Book Award of the American Sociological Association and the Society for the Study of Social Problems. Her co-edited volume, Whatever Happened to Class? Reflections from South Asia was first published in 2008 and re-printed in 2016 due to popular demand. Her most recent book is The Migration-Development Regime: How Class Shapes Indian Emigration (Oxford, 2022). Agarwala is also a co-founder and head of the global scholarly network “Experiences Organizing Informal Workers”. She has served as the Director of Undergraduate Studies at Johns Hopkins for over ten years. She serves on the Editorial Boards of the journals, Politics and Society and the Global Labor Journal. And she is a member of the steering committee for the Gupta-Kilinsky India Institute at Johns Hopkins University. Agarwala has worked at the United Nations Development Program in China, the Self-Employed Women’s Association in India, and Women’s World Banking in New York. She holds a BA in Economics and Government from Cornell University, an MPP in Political and Economic Development from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and a PhD in Sociology and Demography from Princeton University.


February 1, 2023
5:00 PM - 7:00 PM
Event Category:


ADCPS and HSS, IIT Bombay


HSS Seminar Room
Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT Bombay
Mumbai, Maharashtra 400076 India
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