ECSAS 2023 – Turin 26-29 July

“… but this is a huge city. So I like it here.”: Exploring transient home-making amongst the ‘rurban’ circular migrants in Hyderabad, India.


Chakraborty Tirthankar - Freie Universität Berlin, Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, Berlin, Germany


06 – Housing, Dwelling, Multilocal ‘Home’-Making: Repertoires of Living Together in Urban South Asia and Beyond


Migration has been deemed as a process of alleviating ambient distress and striving for livelihood, through a flight from rural to rural or rural to urban locales in search of jobs, opportunities and resources. Taking a cue from Vinay Gidwani and K Sivaramakrishnan’s formulation of ‘Rural Cosmopolitanism’, this paper looks at the rural migrants from Eastern India who periodically migrate to the city of Hyderabad (India) to work in informal sectors for short durations, even when they could work in their immediate vicinity (rural locales and nearby towns), and then return to their rural homes. Even though they work in the city (Hyderabad, in this case), they don’t plan to move or settle there, since they need the rural to posit and practise their acquisition of symbols, signs, behaviours, practices, and tendencies from the urban; thereby making the process of migration a formation of a new identity and, what I call, a ‘rurban sensibility’ – a messy amalgamation of the parochial-rural and the modern-urban, that necessitates a radical break from binaries feeding into policy-making and urban research. The transient nature of their travail, however, allows them to create temporary homes in the urban and preserve the idyllic home in the rural. With the help of ethnographic fieldwork, this paper explores the circular migrant’s fluid concept of ‘home-making’, and employs Bourdieu’s analysis of ‘distinction’ to analyse the changing contours of aspiration, mobility and dwelling.