Department of Global Development Studies


Global Development Studies

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Title: Masculine Aspirations, Migrant Realities: Disciplining Undocumented South Asian Men In Greek Agriculture

Date:  Wednesday January 30, 2019
Venue: MacDonald Hall, Room 2
Time: 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM
Speaker: Reena Kukreja, Queen's University

In this talk, I argue that the agrarian crisis in Pakistan and India has created a crisis of masculinity for rural small and marginal farm-holding men by stripping away their manhood, defined by the ‘breadwinner’ ideal.  Burdened with the emasculating tag of ‘failed men’, migration overseas emerges as a compensatory masculine strategy to reinstate lost manly stature. In recent years, these rural migrants have filled a vital labour gap in the agrarian economy of Greece, the revitalization of which is also attributed to the large-scale use of cheap and flexible migrant force. Drawing upon my research in rural Greece, I trace the processes through which the disciplinary mechanisms of migration and labour regimes, contingent on ‘illegality’ of status and exercised by threats of deportation, succeed in reinforcing abject masculinity within this group of undocumented male migrants. The fear of humiliating and emasculatory public spectacles of deportation works efficiently to enforce labour compliancy, keep it captive and docile, and make extraction of labour more efficient from these men’s racialised labouring bodies. I contend that the disciplinary power is also linked to racism, Islamophobia and the Greek ethno-nationalist project of ensuring racial homogeneity in the country as it enforces a self-imposed discipline of invisibility from Greek public spaces by these men. Lastly, I foreground the novel use of a South Asian sport, Kabaddi, an embodiment of the men’s rural cultural identity, as a defiant act of masculine assertion and a highly visible resistance strategy against the disciplinary power of deportability.

Reena Kukreja

Susan Belyea

Dr. Reena Kukreja is an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Global Development Studies at Queen’s University and a Visiting Fellow at the International Migration Research Centre at the Balsillie School of International Affairs, Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo. She divides time between teaching, research, and filmmaking. She has directed several award-winning documentaries on rural women in India and South Asia. She has published in journals such as Modern Asian Studies and the Journal of Intercultural Studies.