Migrants and Waste: A Gendered Analysis of Work, Identity and Precarity in Urban Slums of Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India

Roli Misra, University of Lucknow
Nidhi Tewari, TISS Mumbai

This paper talks about the plight of a particular section of population who belongs to Barpeta district in Assam and have taken a migratory route to a distant land Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh. All of these migrants engage in the trade of waste picking. In this perspective, this paper is an attempt to present a gendered perspective on the trials and tribulation of waste pickers and their place in the expeditious, neoliberal state planning. The paper is based on qualitative data collected through series of field surveys conducted between December 2018 to December 2020 in villages in Barpeta as well as in slums in Lucknow inhabited by these Bengali speaking Muslim migrants from Barpeta in Lower Assam. Despite having a formal recognition of citizenship they are often labelled as “Bangladeshis”; had faced harassment by people as well as the police. The migrant discrimination, wounded identities and occupation of waste picking that they engage in, call for an intersectional day to day lived navigation of their ordeal. Women waste pickers and their work needs to be looked at with a relational interpretation. Their well-being and what is precarity to them, can be understood by navigating lived experiences with them.

Keywords: Migrant populations, Human capital and labour markets, Population geography, Internal migration

See extended abstract.

  Presented in Session 5. Gendered Impacts of Migration and Squatter Living