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

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McClelland, Ashley

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University of Guelph

Abstract

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.

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

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