Identity, Movement and Belonging In a Land of Tradition: A Critical Examination of the Nepali Workforce in Leh, Ladakh

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Langseth-Depaolis, Teresa; Occidental College
Asian Studies; Community-Based Research; Family, Life Course, and Society; Labor Economics; Place and Environment; Sociology of Culture; Work, Economy and Organizations
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paper description
In recent years, Nepal has emerged at the forefront of the international labor market with a growing and continuous out-flow of migrant laborers. Such migratory patterns have landed people from Nepal in jobs all over the world; from power plants in Dubai to coffee shops in Toronto. This study situates the phenomenon of Nepali migrant labor in the rapidly urbanizing capital of Leh, Ladakh, and examines the experiences of identity and complexities of belonging within the transnational system of migration.I was prompted to conduct research in Leh after having heard from a local man that there was a small “slum” forming on the Northern edge of the city. He told me the so-called slum was primarily comprised of migrant laborers from rural India and Nepal. After hearing this, I was compelled to investigate the living conditions of Nepali workers in Ladakh. Further provocation to conduct my studies in Leh was incited upon realizing that while there is a vast body of knowledge concerning the reasons for migration, the experiences of migrant laborers at their respective labor destinations is severely understudied.