Events

The Geographies of Intermediation: Labor Intermediaries, Labor Migration, and Cane Harvesting in Rural Western India
Thursday, May 23, 2019 - 12:00pm to Thursday, May 23, 2019 - 1:30pm
The Geographies of Intermediation: Labor Intermediaries, Labor Migration, and Cane Harvesting in Rural Western India

Abstract from Professor Rai:

In this paper, I explain the role of labor intermediaries in the weaving of capital-labor relations in capitalist agri-business. I do so by focusing on migration infrastructure or the vertical network of labor intermediaries who facilitate labor recruitment and migrant labor disciplining on the cane fields to harvest sugarcane in rural western India. This paper presents a novel lens to reconcile internal and international migration within geographic studies of migration by showing how the migration infrastructure that has historically facilitated the international migration of labor through slavery and indenture for cane harvesting continues to be reproduced in the context of internal labor migration for the harvesting of the same commodity. Second, I show how the role of labor intermediaries cannot be understood by containing them within the villainous stereotypes associated with them. Instead, I show how intermediaries are embedded within the labor geographies of commodity production where capital accumulation requires the downward transferring of the risk of financial loss to intermediaries and laborers. I collected data for this research by conducting interviews and focus group discussions in Yavatmal and Kolhapur districts in Maharashtra state in rural western India during summer 2014 and 2015-16.

About the speaker:

Pronoy Rai is the assistant professor at the International Studies Program at Portland State University. 

Time and location: Noon, May 23, URBN 220