Producing mobility: Indian ITers in an interconnected world

Author: 
Amrute, Sareeta Bipin
Year: 
2008

     Between 2002 and 2004 I followed the careers of Indian Information Technology workers (ITers) living in Berlin, Germany. This dissertation is about their formation as an international labor force that is highly skilled, cheap, and flexible. I use their stories to make an argument about high technology, global regimes of money and labor, and the construction of Indian ethnicity across space and in time.
     I suggest that both the return of 18th and 19th century forms of organization and the speed and intensity of connections are symptoms of what is truly new about globalization--the coming into being of a new kind of abstraction by which to measure, understand, and form human life. I approach this abstraction by focusing on how one recognized aspect of globalization, the widespread use of computer technology, relies on and at the same time produces particular kinds of labor. I suggest that the flexibility of Indian IT workers is formed through regimes of discipline that synchronize space and time, in part through narration.
     I use the study of narrative forms as a window onto larger questions of time, space, and discipline. The pathways along which persons, goods, and ideas circulate are crosscut with processes that align disparate spaces and make times work in synchronization. Here the human body, including consciousness of the body in time and space, provides both a template for the reorganization of space-time and a residue hindering that reorganization. To be a successful Indian ITer is to be an adept at parlaying ethnicity and race into a package to be presented to skill-poor nations such as Germany without ever giving this knot of association between race and capability away; that is, without ever letting others or even oneself see completely the way that the knot is tied and untied in law, in discourse, in social action, and in the rules and rituals governing migration itself.

Advisor(s): 
Povinelli, Elizabeth
Department: