Temporary People – Centering the Periphery of Migrant Experiences
Published on July 23, 2021
August 27, 2021 3:30 pm (IST)
Online - Webinar
What is the essence of a migrant’s experience when he/she lives in a place that they arrived into and did not originally belong to? How does one deal with the anxiety of un-familiarity and learn to re-purpose one’s life?
Discerning this is difficult for us, cocooned as we are in our everyday life of familiarity and routine. However, this is the reality of many people – in a rapidly urbanizing developmental context-across the world. Here in Kerala, millions have gone to the middle-east seeking to ease their own and the lives of their families from the genteel poverty or seeking greener pastures that open up with better wages in the Middle East.
Much of the literature on migration has not engaged with this lived experience, except for its socio-economic and political implications in academic literature. Descriptions of this life and its experiential messiness exist in literature. To capture this elusive context rendered invisible in the dominant discourse of ‘local’ or ‘belonging’, we seek to explore fictionalized accounts of migrants’ experiences elsewhere. For Keralites what better experience than that of living the west Asian dream – ‘gulfies’ and we know them valued and caricatured in our popular imagination.
We propose a symposium- reading of 4 stories/anthologies/films describing them from the perspective of ‘what’ the individuals experienced and ‘how’ they have experienced it. Each speaker will dwell on one novel/anthology/film and the subsequent discussion will attempt to extract the meaning of migrant experience
Books / Films for review
Speaker – Dr Mala Ramanathan, Professor, AMCHSS.
A middle-aged bachelor heading the editorial at a newspaper in an imagined country in the Arabian Gulf, Abbas is beset by loneliness and the attendant regret – a life punctuated by ifs and maybes, and the dreariness of the dry and dusty shamal winds
Speaker – Malu Mohan .
Ashwathi, a lower-middle-class Malayali woman, comes to Saudi Arabia as a migrant worker. Unable to deal with torture at the workplace, she attempts to flee the country.
Speaker – Sunu C Thomas
A 2008 Malayalam novel about an abused migrant worker in Saudi Arabia written by Bahrain-based Indian author Benyamin. The novel is based on real-life events and was a best seller in Kerala.
Speaker – Tijo George
In the United Arab Emirates, foreign nationals constitute over 80 percent of the population. Brought in to construct and serve the towering monuments to wealth that punctuate the skylines of Abu Dhabi and Dubai, this labor force is not given the option of citizenship.
Event link – https://meet.google.com/nxg-dfts-ydv
S Irudaya Rajan
Senior Research Consultant, Women’s Institute for Social and Health Studies, Thiruvananthapuram
Sunu C Thomas
Health Information System (HIS) Researcher, Health Information Systems Program (HISP) India
PhD Scholar, AMCHSS