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Seminar: Conversations on Social Reproduction

Title: Men's Everyday Experiences in Domestic-Care Labour Markets in Globalizing India

Speakers: Dr Thomas Chamber, Oxford Brooks University and Dr Shalini Grove, LSE

Where: Online on MS Teams

Thomas Chambers has a PhD in Social Anthropology from the University of Sussex. He is currently a Senior Lecturer in Social/Cultural Anthropology at Oxford Brookes University. His research focuses on Muslim neighbourhoods in north-western Uttar Pradesh (India). Whilst geographically specific, the work engages with broad thematic areas including migration, labour, supply chains, gender, urban space, conviviality, state bureaucracies, digitisation, subjectivities, Islam, and artisanship.

Thomas has published widely in a range of anthropological and interdisciplinary journals. He has also published an ethnographic monograph, Networks, Labour and Migration among Indian Muslim Artisans (2020, UCL Press), which details processes of marginalisation and connection within a Muslim craft community in the region and their migration connections across India and in the Gulf.

More recently, Thomas has expanded his research focus to include male-domestic care workers in North India. This work analyses intersections between gender, labour, migration, class and caste. The research is funded by a BA Small Research Grant.

Across this broad range of engagement, Thomas is interested in how structural processes shape personal biographies and subjectivities as well as the agency, potentialities and resistances of workers and migrants at the lower end of India’s labour hierarchy and in the Gulf.

Shalini Grover received her PhD is anthropology from the University of Sussex in 2006. From 2007-2016, she was based at the Institute of Economic Growth (IEG), University of Delhi as an Associate Professor in Anthropology. She has published widely on marriage, love, kinship, legal pluralisms, labour relations and globalized care in peer-review journals such as Modern Asian Studies, Contributions to Indian Sociology and Cultural Dynamics. Her 2011 monograph (‘Marriage, Love, Caste, and Kinship Support: Lived Experiences of the Urban Poor in India) now features as a new international revised edition by Routledge (London and New York, 2018). Her most recent research focuses on globalized care through a historical-anthropological lens. She is working on her second monograph a historical-ethnography of domestic service over the last 100 years, that is forthcoming with Cambridge University Press. Shalini has been the recipient of various grants in India and the UK. She is currently a Research Fellow at the International Inequalities Institute (III), London School of Economics (LSE).

Abstract: Drawing from our ongoing British Academy/ Leverhulme Small Research Grants project on ‘Male Domestic-Care Workers in Globalizing India’ we will highlight our ethnographic findings pertaining to workers in the capital city of Delhi and the northern provincial city of Saharanpur. With existing research primarily focusing on female employees, our project attempts to address a substantive gap in academic and policy debates. Specifically, we attend to how men negotiate constructed notions of masculinity when engaging in forms of employment associated with feminised, stigmatised and low-status work. To do so, our ethnography tracks the ways in which labour precarity, workers’ skillsets, new technologies and forms of labour brokerage are altering gendered expectations and the everyday experiences of male domestic-care workers. We also elucidate how COVID-19 has impacted the employment opportunities of men in the sector, their relationships with employers and their sense of agency. Finally, our seminar will outline the positive features and limits of our existing ethnographic methods for exploring men’s lives and articulations in employer’s home and how we plan to take the study forward.

The Laws of Social Reproduction project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (under grant agreement No. 772946).. For more information about the project, please email

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Prabha Kotiswaran

Professor of Law & Social Justice

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