“Who Leaves Home If There is a Choice?”

Migration Decisions of Women Workers on Tea Plantations in India

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Supurna Banerjee Institute of Development Studies Kolkata, India banerjee.supurna@gmail.com

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The Dooars tea plantations in India were colonial enterprises set up through recruiting a migrant workforce from Central India. Against the background of the crisis in the Indian tea industry in the early 2000s, and the resulting migration of workers to the cities to join various casual workforces, this article questions the dualities in the framework of migration/displacement and aspiration/ desperation. Through mapping the migration decisions of women workers from the plantations, the article traces the ways in which aspiration often follows from migration rather than predating it. Inheriting a history of displacement as migrant labor brought from Central India, the aspiration expressed is often that of belonging. The article then interrogates how the narratives of displacements feature in narratives of aspiration. The migration strategies are not uniform among all the women, but vary across their life stages and accordingly the possibilities and limitations post-migration differ.

Contributor Notes

Supurna Banerjee is a feminist academic and Assistant Professor at the Institute of Development Studies Kolkata. Her research is focused on issues of labor, women, intersectionality, caste and migration. She published the monograph Activism and Agency in India: Nurturing Resistance in the Tea Plantations in 2017 and co-authored Limits of Bargaining: Capital, Labour and the State in Contemporary India in 2019. Email: banerjee.supurna@gmail.com.

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