More than one million Indians travel annually to work in oil projects in the Gulf, one of the few international destinations where men without formal education can find lucrative employment. Between Dreams and Ghosts: Indian Migration and Middle Eastern Oil (Stanford University Press, 2021) follows their migration, taking readers to sites in India, the United Arab Emirates, and Kuwait, from villages to oilfields and back again. Engaging all parties involved—the migrants themselves, the recruiting agencies that place them, the government bureaucrats that regulate their emigration, and the corporations that hire them—Andrea Wright examines labor migration as a social process as it reshapes global capitalism. With this book, Wright demonstrates how migration is deeply informed both by workers’ dreams for the future and the ghosts of history, including the enduring legacies of colonial capitalism. As workers navigate bureaucratic hurdles to migration and working conditions in the Gulf, they in turn influence and inform state policies and corporate practices. Placing migrants at the center of global capital rather than its periphery, Wright shows how migrants are not passive bodies at the mercy of abstract forces—and reveals through their experiences a new understanding of contemporary resource extraction, governance, and global labor.
Irene Promodh is a PhD student in sociocultural anthropology at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
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