Migrant Labourers' Struggles Between Village and Urban Migration Sites: Labour Standards, Rural Development and Politics in South India


  • David Picherit Centre d’Études de l’Inde et de l’Asie du Sud




construction industry, India, labour migration, labour struggles, rural development,


This article examines seasonal labour migrants' social and spatial engagement with contemporary transformations in labour migration patterns, State policies and development issues in the South Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. This state is at the forefront of the neo-liberal policies that have been rolled out in India since the 1990s.

By looking at shifting temporalities, spaces and forms of labour contestation in South India, it considers how the forms, spaces and focuses of struggles of migrant labourers in the village and urban construction sites shape and are shaped by State policies which silence capital/labour issues in favour of development/poverty perspectives, village power relationships and the organization of the urban construction industry.

Based on ethnographical fieldwork carried out with seasonal migrant labourers, both in their home village and in urban construction sites where they are employed as casual labourers, this article argues that the focus of labourer’s struggles is on village based social outcomes rather than on workplace issues. This is related to the absence of government labour regulation standards and rights within the city and to the flow of developments schemes in rural settings, cornered and redistributed by local leaders under logics of clientelism.