"In Another Country: Migration, Poverty and Belonging in Contemporary India."

Lecture by Bengt G. Karlsson (Stockholm University) at ZEF Bonn

Abstract: Much of the recent literature in human mobility deals with people that cross national borders, i.e. transnational migrants, diaspora communities and refugees. Such flows are taken to be critical in the contemporary globalizing world. The crossing of borders is also commonly assumed to be an especially traumatic and life-changing event. What tends to be forgotten or down-played in these discussions is the fact that most people who leave their homes to seek a better life elsewhere still remain within their respective states. In this paper, I will deal with migration within India. I will look at movements from India’s Northeastern region to the urban metropolises of the south. I will be concerned with basic questions of why people uproot themselves and how it is to settle in a place that in so many ways appear as a foreign country.

Note on the presenter: Bengt G. Karlsson received his PhD in Social Anthropology at Lund University in 1997, after which he taught Anthropology at Linköping University and Uppsala University. In 2006 he was titled Associate Professor at Uppsala University and in January 2010 he took up his present position as Senior Lecturer of Social Anthropology at Stockholm University. Bengt G. Karlsson has been guest researcher at the North-Bengal University, the University College London, the University of Chicago and the North-East Hill University. During 2008-2009 he worked as an affiliated teacher at the Center for Social Sciences at Tbilisi State University in Georgia. He has also held a position as Director of the Nordic Centre in India, promoting student and research exchange between the Nordic countries and India. Karlsson is Head of Department and elected member of the Social Science Faculty Board at Stockholm University. He is also a committee member of the Swedish Research Council. Bengt G. Karlsson’s main research interest relate to the larger issue of society-environment interface, with particular focus on the politics of ethnicity and environment in India. During recent years he has developed these themes within the framework of political ecology and environmental history. Recently, he concluded a larger project that dealt with the the struggle over forests and natural resources in Meghalaya,north-east India. The focus of the project was to investigate the different regimes of nature and how a number of actors perceive, engage with and claim nature. His monograph Unruly Hills: A Political Ecology of India’s Northeast is a result of this project. Karlsson is presently engaged in three other projects: 1) Environment and Violence: Water-conflicts, indigenous livelihoods, insurgency and the state in Northeast India, 2) Development Expatriates: International Community at Work in Postsocialist Georgia, and 3) Poverty and Affirmative Action in South Asia

Time and place: March 27th, at 1.30, ZEF right conference room

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