Landless labourers? Busting the myth of the migrant in the construction economy

[By Shweta Mahendra Chandrashekhar] I was born in Lonavala and brought up in Pune, both places located in the western region of India. Some of the vivid memories I have of my childhood include visits to numerous tunnel construction sites in India (Pune-Mumbai Expressway, Konk­­an Railway, Delhi Metro). My father’s infrastructure firm has been in […]

Making the law speak: Empowering workers through legal engagement

[By Siddharth de Souza] One of the most telling images of the past few months since the Government of India announced a lockdown has been the exodus of people on the move, from cities where they had made a home, through work, through children’s schools, and through social relationships, back to the home that they […]

Research that hurts – On the practice of care in fieldwork

[By Rawshon Akhter] Many ethical concerns connected to fieldwork are already a matter of established and routinized practice. For example, the privacy of respondents is protected by anonymizing their identity. In recent decades, we have further pushed these methodological norms. Ethnographers grapple with their legacy of an extractive culture, making a compelling case for ethical […]

Gendered Data Dilemmas and Feminist Design

[By Payal Arora] From media headlines such as “Why Do Women Make Such Good Leaders During COVID-19?” to the “Rise in Domestic Violence during Lockdown,” COVID-19 has acquired a deep gendered dimension, albeit a seemingly schizophrenic one. Women particularly in low-income communities are at once framed as leaders and victims – positioned at the forefront […]

Design for One: Centering the Inadequacy of Technology

[By Chinar Mehta] The first computer in my own home, years ago, was kept in the only room with air conditioning; my parents’ bedroom. The tangle of wires positioned my parents as the authority in the household – there was nothing we could do on the “personal” computer that could escape their notice. Few of […]

Should researchers be activists?

By René König For the longest time, scientists were idealized as objective observers of the world. Today, this ideal appears not only somewhat naïve, it is also increasingly regarded as not desirable. Instead, scientists are expected to be active members of society and vice versa; science is seen to be in need of becoming ‘democratized’, […]

Beauty gig work in the time of Covid-19

By Sai Amulya Komarraju In late March 2020, India declared a nation-wide lockdown, restricting the movement of people and services considered as non-essential in an effort to restrict the spread of Covid-19. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s clarion call of “Jaan hai tho jahan hai” (loosely translated as health is wealth) was an effort to justify […]

Hanging by a thread: The unraveling of the garment industry in Bangladesh

By Mohammad Sahid Ullah Around 4.1 million workers of the Bangladeshi apparel industry that exports ready-made garments to more than 165 countries across the world is facing a severe crisis amid the COVID19 epidemic. Many of them continue working in factories, to meet shipment deadlines, defying the government shut down order. Meanwhile, many factory owners […]

Technology for a social cause: TikTok and Asia’s mobile-first nations

By Payal Arora What does collective organizing look like in the digital age? Can we leverage on TikTok, the most downloaded app in 2020, to humanize the millions of informal laborers as they face unprecedented levels of precarity and help mobilize a global social conscience? Are there new geopolitical partnerships arising across governments, INGOs, the […]

Building on empathy: can we broaden the conversation?

By Usha Raman As India imposed a near-complete lockdown in March, accompanied by social distancing recommendations, things began to fall apart for the millions engaged in daily wage labour across multiple sectors. To them, the sudden absence of work meant the inability to pay for shelter and food, the barest needs to sustain oneself in […]

And so we begin, by organizing ourselves…

By Payal Arora & Usha Raman On January 27 2020, the team for ‘Feminist Approaches to Labour Collectives: Organizing Digitally in South Asia,’ a three-year grant funded project by the International Development Research Center (IDRC) Canadian agency, got together in Hyderabad, India, to launch this project. The goal for the meeting was to draw up […]


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