Fragile Togetherness: Entanglement and Belonging among Migrant Workers in Delhi — Shankar Ramaswami

This paper will explore migrant workers’ lives, experiences, and social worlds in Delhi, drawing on ethnographic fieldwork among metal workers in the Okhla Industrial Area. The paper discusses migrants’ work trajectories, social dealings in neighbourhoods, and feelings of exclusion and belonging in Delhi. While migrants might aspire to accumulate savings quickly and return to the village, they are rarely able to do so, due to low wages, illnesses, and growing attachments in the city. Amid myriad tensions, insularity, and envy, the paper argues, migrant workers weave a complex fabric of fragile togetherness in the city. 

Shankar Ramaswami works on the anthropologies of globalization, migration, urban workers, and religion in South Asia. He completed an A.B. in Economics at Harvard College and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Sociocultural Anthropology at the University of Chicago. He was Lecturer on South Asian Studies and Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of South Asian Studies at Harvard, where he taught courses on anthropology, literature, cinema, and religion. He is currently completing a book entitled, Souls in the Kalyug: The Politics and Cosmologies of Migrant Workers in Delhi. At O. P. Jindal Global University, he teaches courses on global capitalism, autonomous politics, urban ethnography, religion, and Indian cinema.