Concourse: 02/18/18


Sunday, February 18, 2018

Call for Papers for an International Conference on Migration-"The Migrant and the State: From Colonialism to Neoliberalism", TISS, Patna, India

Call for Papers :
The latest Economic Survey (2016-17) of the Government of India has a full chapter devoted to interstate migration in the country. Titled ‘India on the Move and Churning: New Evidence,’ the chapter begins with a quote by B. R. Ambedkar: ‘An ideal society should be mobile, should be full of channels for conveying a change taking place in one part to other parts.’[1] Clearly in its present outlook on migration the Indian government strives to make a positive connection between mobility of labour and large scale social transformation facilitated through the channels of this mobility riding on a new set of evidence from novel methods of enumeration like Cohort-based Migration Metric and Railway Passenger Data based Metric that show a considerable increase in the volume of interstate migration in comparison with the provisional D-5 tables in the 2011 Census. Notwithstanding the correctness of the estimates, we may infer that the Indian state is considering the phenomenon of migration not only as a means of economic development but also as an instrument of effecting social transformation by governing the flow and direction of the movement of the working population. The desire to identify and manage the potential workers on the move is also palpable in the two observations made in the study: (1) the female workforce is a highly potential agent of development and (2) the expansion and integration of the labour markets require portability of food security benefits, healthcare and basic social security provisions through better interstate coordination entailing re-imagination of the federal structure of the country.

It does not need saying that the relatively recent interest in migration has a long history that can be traced back to the days of colonialism, slavery and indentured labour. The relationship between the state and the migrant has gone through many a mutation since then; the mutuality of their existence has also been sifted by a range of seemingly external forces, institutions and processes. However, according to Timothy Mitchell, the debate about the elusive boundary between the state and the non-state entities has a tendency to assume inaccurately that the division is external to their respective forms and mechanisms.[2] The same division is again reinforced in the often contradictory understandings about the state either as an abstract concept or as an amalgam of well defined functions and material practices. The problem with this definitive position is that it often obscures the politics that contributes to the internalisation of the externalities between the state and non-state entities. It is therefore imperative to follow the trails of this elusive boundary as we live in a time when both the notions of a strong and a weak state can exist simultaneously and operate in the same plane of material interventions. Migration seems to be a potent site of studying these processes in the sense that it stages the enactment of flexing boundaries repeatedly and often in ways that reproduce the logic of externalisation of the non-state entities like the society or the economy. In the same token, it also reintroduces the state in our imagination as an effect of a boundary-making exercise where the limits of economic development, social churning and reordering of the state interact with each other and produce novel forms of governmental apparatuses.    

The International Conference on the dynamic and ever-changing relationship between the state and the migrant aims to meet the timely demand of chronicling these interactive, interspersed narratives of mutuality where the figure of the migrant is produced in the various domains of statist paraphernalia over the last two hundred years. At the same time, it will focus on histories of the reinforcement of the state – both as ideas and material realities – in our collective political imagination by eliciting various other flexible boundaries between the market and the state, the legal and the illegal, the formal and the informal and the mobile and the sedentary. The broad thrust of the conference will be on (a) how significantly different is the ‘postcolonial condition’ from colonialism with respect to the relationship between the state and the migrant; (b) what is the specificity of the neoliberal refashioning of the state in dealing with the mobile workforce; and (c) how new technologies of enumeration and intervention affect the state’s perceptions of and expectations from the migrant.
Individual papers and panels are welcome on any of the following themes and related areas:   
1.      Migrant labour in the colonial period
2.      Migrant and Postcolonial industrialisation
3.      Migration and gender
4.      Identity, violence, and displacement
5.      Changing agrarian relations
6.      New technologies of governance
7.      Trans-border migration
8.      Labour, informality and logistics
9.      Migration and urbanisation
10.  Social movements and forms of resistance

Important Dates
Submission of abstract: 31st May, 2018
Intimation of selection of abstract: 30th June, 2018
Registration of paper presenters: 1st to 15th July, 2018
[Registration Fee: Rs. 1000/- for Indian participants and $100 for international participants]
Submission of full paper: 21st October, 2018
Date of Conference: 29th and 30th November and 1st December 2018
To submit your abstract or for any query, write to

Contact Info: 
Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Patna Centre

Delhi Public School Senior Wing 
Village: Chandmari, 
Danapur Cantonment, Patna - 801 502 (Bihar) INDIA

Contact Email: