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New Publication by Paula Chakravartty on the Politics of Reforming Global Labor Supply Chains

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Paula Chakravartty, Associate Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication at NYU Steinhardt and Gallatin and IHDSC Faculty Affiliate, recently published, “From Indenture to ‘Good Governance’: eMigrate and the Politics of Reforming Global Labour Supply Chains,” in Antipode with Michelle Buckley and Sahiba Gill. 


The paper presents a study of workers’ experiences of contract substitution alongside the eMigrate system, a digital registration system introduced by the Indian government in 2015. Contract substitution—in which workers sign one contract but end up working under another—is a common form of fraud faced by Indian low-wage migrant workers working in the Gulf Cooperation Council states. While a stated aim of eMigrate is to protect workers from contract fraud, these practices persist. The authors examine the historical and colonial path dependencies that continue to shape the Indian state’s institutional responses to labor exploitation and unfreedom abroad. The British Empire created a legal system of indenture and its related contracts in order to maintain a fiction of free labor after it was forced to dismantle chattel slavery. As during the British Empire, so long as the economic incentives by both private corporations and states are aligned to benefit from unfree labor, states will continue to benefit from programs like eMigrate. The authors contend that recognizing how legacies of indentured labor regulation persist through eMigrate has implications for contemporary campaigns for migrant justice in the Gulf region and globally.

Paula Chakravartty

Associate Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication (Steinhardt and Gallatin)

puc1@nyu.edu

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