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At Home in Globalization: Social Reproduction, Transnational Migration, and the Circulating Indian IT Household

Amy Bhatt. “At Home in Globalization: Social Reproduction, Transnational Migration, and the Circulating Indian IT Household.” Diss. U of Washington, 2011.

This dissertation is a transnational feminist ethnography about Indian information technology (IT) workers and their families circulating between India and Seattle on temporary visas. Simultaneously disciplined by immigration restrictions that classify them as "temporary" and hailed as the success story of globalization, these migrants are engaging in place-making practices such as starting families, buying homes, and seeking permanent residency, that challenge their status as flexible subjects. Using the analytic of semi-national practice, I argue that these migrants are crafting new subject positions, which rely on discourses of multiculturalism, neoliberalism, nationalism and entrepreneurialism as well as gendered norms and divisions of labor within the household, that help them navigate life across national locations. I trace these practices and discourses across three registers: first, I examine state policies such as the expansion of rights afforded to "non-resident Indians" in India, and the H-1B visa program in the United States. I argue that these state adaptations allow Indian workers to discursively position themselves as legitimate national subjects through the deployment of culture, work ethics, and gender norms. Second, I argue that workers organize their households and intimate lives to meet the demands of the IT industry, the nation, and to strengthen their class position. Finally, I signal how these migrants are part of a new global class that sees the corporation, rather than the nation, as a primary site of affiliation. This study demonstrates how migrant practices and processes of subject formation reveal the dynamics and changing relationships between gender and social reproduction, notions of citizens and diaspora, and transnational migration.

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