Chains of Exploitation: Skills, Solidarity and Survival in Kathmandu’s Urban Construction Industry
This paper investigates labor dynamics among workers in the construction industry in Kathmandu. Based on 6 months fieldwork in 2016, during a slump in the construction industry before the pick-up of earthquake reconstruction, I investigate the difficult situation construction workers faced without social security and only their networks to rely on. Being for the most part migrants, laborers in the construction industry depend entirely on their networks for survival in the urban fabric. I trace the difficult conditions for labor solidarity in a context where construction work depends on hierarchical subcontracting and divisions of skills. I argue that this creates durable fissures between groups of workers, which I suggest can be understood as chains of exploitation.