Journal article / Feminine Subjectivities and Transnational Labour Migration

Anamika Ajay. ‘Differentiation of Femininities in Contemporary Kerala: Evidence from Left-Behind Families of Women Transmigrant Workers’. Migration and Development. Published ahead of print, 23 August 2020.

Abstract: This article explores a largely understudied aspect of women’s transnational labour migration: how localised frameworks of feminine ideals and subjectivities interact with women’s migration. It is based on a mixed-methods field research conducted in 2016 in a village in Central Kerala with a long history of women’s labour migration.

Analyses revealed the emergence of five local categories of feminine subjectivities: the dutiful daughters, young educated and typically unmarried women who are considered as assets rather than burdens by their families; the responsible mothers, who are responsible for the social reproduction of dutiful daughters; the flying grandmas, commonly older mothers who engage in temporary migration to support the transmigrant women with their domestic responsibilities; the defiant wives, mostly married women whose autonomous migration is perceived as a transgression of the conjugal family ideals even though these families survive on their earnings; and the substitute women, typically older women who take over the role of caregivers when married women migrate leaving behind their husbands and children.

The paper concludes by demonstrating how globalising processes like women’s international labour migration interact with localised gender, caste and class structures to produce new and unequal categories of femininities.

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Reposted from Kerala Scholars eGroup

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