Bodies in Search of Freedom: Suffering, Structural Violence and Symbolic Violence Amongst Marginal Nepali Migrants
Despite recurrent stories of exploitation, ill-health, suffering and death amongst Nepali labour migrants, widely circulated in literatures, media and NGO discourses, young men’s aspiration to out-migrate from rural Nepal has never been higher. In their attempt to escape the regimented and constrained life in rural Nepal, most migrants go through a considerable debt and hardship to organize their mobility only to find themselves in the midst of difficult and exploitative working and living conditions in their destination. Migrants’ lives are also characterized by fun, excitement, adventure in the form of drinking, cinemas, use of gadgets such as mobile phones, images of high rise buildings and wide roads amongst others that offer powerful avenues through which these migrants maintain sense of purpose despite the difficulties they face. Reflecting on my own work with poorer Nepali male labour migrants from western hills to India, this paper attempts to uncover linkages among suffering, structural violence related to inequalities and symbolic violence of stereotypes and prejudices.