Geometries of power: class, caste and Gulf migration from Kerala, India

Thumbnail Image



McClelland, Ashley

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


University of Guelph


This thesis investigates how migration to the Gulf countries influences structures of poverty and inequality in Kadakkavoor panchayat, Kerala. During a five month field-research period, I used a combination of quantitative and qualitative research methods to explore the diverse experiences and impacts of migration in Kadakkavoor panchayat. This research fills a number of gaps in the migration literature; firstly by taking account of the uneven experience of both migrant 'and' non-migrant households, and secondly, by critically examining the social relations of caste and community that underscore access to successful Gulf migration opportunities. I further explore the potential for Gulf migration to alleviate poverty and influence class mobility for those included and excluded from the migration process. I argue that migration has the potential to reduce poverty and initiate a certain degree of class mobility for those households and social groupings that can access positive migration opportunities, through facilitating networks, whereas, exclusion from migration tends to re-enforce and re-produce traditional structures of inequality and poverty in Kadakkavoor panchayat.



Kerala, India, Gulf migration, Class, Caste, Power