Panels and speakers > Speakers list > Mhaskar Summit

Tuesday 27
A - “Uprooted Peasants” or Modern City-dwellers? Rural/Urban Migration and the Making of Cityscapes in India
Coord. Camille Buat
› 16:00 - 17:30 (1h30)
Description de l'atelier / Panel description
Camille Buat  2, 1@  , Saikat Maitra  2@  , Summit Mhaskar  2@  , Dhiraj Nite  3@  , Robert Raman  2@  
2 : Georg-August-University [Göttingen]  (CEMIS)  -  Website
1 : Centre d'histoire de Sciences Po  (CHSP)  -  Website
Sciences Po : EA113
56 rue Jacob 75006 Paris -  France
3 : Ambedkar University

From the mid-19th century onwards industrial and urban development in India has mostly relied on migrant workers. The migrant workers left their (usually rural) homes to be employed in a variety of fields, from large scale factories to the multitude of small scale activities constitutive of the urban economy. Drawing on ethnographic and historical perspectives, this panel will explore the experience of rural-urban migration as an enduring feature of the development and expansion of capitalism in India. It, specifically focuses on the migrant workers' relationship to the city and the countryside in colonial and contemporary India. Should migrant workers be seen as “uprooted peasants”, temporarily inhabiting a place that doesn't belong to them and where they don't belong?Or is life and work in the city a breeding ground for new, modern subjects? The panel will look into the reconfiguration of the migrants' relationship to the urban space over time, as it was shaped by long term economic, political and social trends.


The panel will demonstrate how the alleged weakness of the migrant labourer's urban implantation has historically coexisted with a variety of endeavours to lay their claim to the urban spaces. This is described in the first two papers, first in the context of worker's participation in the non-cooperation movement in the 1920s, and secondly at the critical transition of the 1940s and 1950s which witnessed a massive workers' mobilisation on the hosing question. Exploring the dichotomy between the village and the city, the third paper argues that circulatory practices contributed to a gendering of the rural/urban nexus, as migration has traditionally been framed as a male phenomenon. The fourth paper highlights a shift in this gendering of mobility linked to development of female circulatory practices, while stressing the way circulation involves a tension between the modern urban space and the traditional rural peripheries. Building on this dichotomy, the fifth paper exploresthe location of ‘traditional' social institutions such as castewhich scholars have historically expected to become irrelevant in modern urban settings.

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