Accepted Paper:

Continuity in mind: imagination and migration in India and the Gulf  
Thomas Chambers (Oxford Brookes University)

Paper short abstract:

In the context of migration between Uttar Pradesh, other areas of India and the Gulf, this article explores the role of the imagination in shaping subjective experiences of male Muslim migrants from a woodworking industry in the North Indian city of Saharanpur.

Paper long abstract:

In the context of migration between Uttar Pradesh, other areas of India and the Gulf, this article explores the role of the imagination in shaping subjective experiences of male Muslim migrants from a woodworking industry in the North Indian city of Saharanpur. Through attending to the dreams, aspirations and hopes of labour migrants the article argues that bridging the material and the imagined is critical to understanding, not just patterns of migration, but also the subjective experiences of migrants themselves. Through a descriptive ethnographic account, involving journeys with woodworkers over one and a half years, the article explores the ways in which migration, its effects and connections are shaped by the imagination, yet are also simultaneously active in shaping the imagination, a process which is self-perpetuating. Emerging from this, the article gives attention to continuity at the material, personal and more emotive level. This runs counter to many accounts which situate migration as rupturing or change driving within both the social and the subjective. These continuities play out in complex ways providing comfort and familiarity but also enabling the imaginations of migrants to be subverted, co-opted, influenced and structured to meet the demands of labour markets both domestically and abroad.

Panel Time01
Imagination, migration & (im)mobility