I engaged with workers in India who have migrated from rural districts in the southern state of Karnataka to work in the mess of an academic institute located in a western state of India. These workers faced significant challenges and vulnerabilities due to being part of the unorganised sector. The primary question for my inquiry was to understand how migrant workers negotiated these vulnerabilities and whether they could succeed in processes of informal collectivisation based on shared bonds of language and ethnicity. I interviewed six migrant workers to understand their experiences and difficulties they face. I analysed the data by building themes within and across the interview data. One of the findings of my study is that the collective identity of migrant workers who are involved in preparation of South Indian food items emerged through various symbolic acts in their living and work spaces.


Migrant Workers, Language Struggles, Interpretive Study


I acknowledge the valuable comments and suggestions provided by Sally, which has significantly helped in improving this work. I am also grateful to Srinath Jagannathan for his insightful comments and painstaking efforts in reading through the earlier drafts of this study.

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