Tiffin Talk; Northeast Migrants in Delhi: Race, Refuge, and Retail by Dr. Duncan McDuie-Ra

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30 August 2012 12:45 pm

Australia India Institute 147-149 Barry st Carlton, Vic, 3053

This Tiffin Talk is based on Dr McDuie-Ra’s recent book, Northeast Migrants in Delhi: Race, refuge and retail. The material comes from an ethnographic study of migrants from India’s north-east border region living and working in Delhi, the nation’s capital. Northeast India joins India to China, the Himalayas, and Southeast Asia. Home to a diverse population tracing their roots to Tai, Mon-Khmer, and Tibeto-Burman peoples, the region is commonly known for secessionist and insurgent movements. Despite burgeoning interest in the region, little attention is given to the thousands of women and men migrating to Indian cities for refuge, work, and study. The stories of Northeast migrants; the places they are from, the places they create in Delhi, and their experiences of the city, reveal an ‘everyday’ Northeast India rarely captured elsewhere. These stories also offer an alternative view of contemporary India. Northeast migrants covet the employment opportunities created by neoliberal capital; shopping malls, restaurants, and call centers. Outside these spaces Northeast migrants experience high levels of racism, harassment, and violence. Far from simply victims of the city, Northeast migrants have created their own ‘map’ of Delhi, enabling a sense of belonging, albeit an uneasy one.  

Dr. Duncan McDuie-Ra is a Senior Lecturer in development Studies at the University of New South Wales. His most recent books are The Politics of Collective Advocacy in India: tools and traps co-authored with Nandini Deo (Sterling VA: Kumarian, 2011) and Northeast Migrants in Delhi: race, refuge and retail (Leiden/Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2012).

Dr Duncan Duie-Ra and Professor John Webb OAM