South Asia

Organized Panel Session

4 - Seasonal Migration, Dispossession, and Precarity: A Narrative of Brick Factory Migrant Laborers in Kathmandu, Nepal

Saturday, July 7
2:40 PM - 4:10 PM
Location: Mahogany, First Floor

Due to uneven development practices and urban bias, brick factory migrant laborers in Kathmandu are dispossessed from a life with social and economic possibilities. Most migrants were lower-caste, landless peasants laboring in high-caste land holdings in western Nepal. They migrated to the city, although seasonally, to work as wage laborers in the brick industries that are spread throughout the southern and eastern belt of the Kathmandu Valley. Although this pattern does not seem anything new from what scholars in the Marxist tradition have analyzed before, such mobility – mostly conceived as economic - is gendered, political, and social. It dispossesses migrant bodies from a life with very little certainty into another that is infused with precarity.


By employing qualitative and visual methodologies, I track the everyday spatial, social, and political challenges faced by brick factory migrant laborers who are continuously pushed through economic and extra-economic means towards the periphery of urban spaces. I argue that dispossession and precarity maps itself in the bodies of migrants. Through neoliberalism, their bodies are becoming increasingly disposable, exploitable, and uncountable in calculations of state power and bureaucracy. Migrant mobilities draw a trajectory from the rural periphery to the precarious spaces of the urban periphery. There, they are structurally deprived of means to a future with possibilities. This life, without possibilities, is a life that is rendered apolitical in state calculations and asocial in an imagined society. But, migrants are humans nevertheless, with a tremendous agency to counter these subjugations that are performed on their bodies.

Rupak Shreshtha

University of Colorado at Boulder, United States

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4 - Seasonal Migration, Dispossession, and Precarity: A Narrative of Brick Factory Migrant Laborers in Kathmandu, Nepal



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Send Email for Seasonal Migration, Dispossession, and Precarity: A Narrative of Brick Factory Migrant Laborers in Kathmandu, Nepal