Sociology,Binghamton University,United States

Fellowship : October 2016 to June 2017

Discipline(s) : Sociology

Pays : United States

Research project : "’Going abroad’ (Bidesh Kara): Circular/Managed Migration and Bangladeshi Transnational Contract Workers"

Transnational contract work and circular/managed migration bring millions of workers from poorer parts of the world to affluent economies every year. It requires workers to tack back and forth between ’home’ and typically a number of different ’abroads’ in the course of a single working life. While such repeat sojourns can involve both professionals and manual labor, the project focuses on ’low-skilled’ male contract workers from Bangladesh, who work in Singapore, the Persian Gulf and the Middle East and North African (MENA) regions. Going abroad (Bidesh Kara) situates this kind of contemporary work and migration regimes within the larger, historical question of the status of labor. Drawing on ethnographic research among Bangladeshi migrants in Singapore and return workers and their families in Bangladesh, it seeks to develop a critical understanding of ’low-skilled’, transnational contract work as it has evolved once again into widespread practice since the final decades of the twentieth century. In the process, the project reflects on the complex interdependencies among different regions of the world - some with a surfeit of wealth but an ageing and hence shrinking laboring population, and others with endemic poverty, but a surplus, young labor force.


Mahua Sarkar is Associate Professor of Sociology, and Asian & Asian-American Studies at Binghamton University, New York. Recently, she has been Senior EURIAS Fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg, Berlin, and a Fellow at Re:work, Humboldt University, Berlin, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi and the Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore. Her areas of research interest include Historical Sociology, Gender/Feminist Theory, Postcolonial Theory, the Politics of Methods, Global Labour History and Transnational Migration. Her publications include her book Visible Histories, Disappearing Women: Producing Muslim Womanhood in Late Colonial Bengal (Duke University Press, 2008 and Zubaan, Delhi 2008); "Changing Together, Changing Apart: Urban Muslim and Hindu Women in Pre-Partition Bengal." History and Memory, (2015); "Between Craft and Method: Meaning and Inter-subjectivity in Oral History Analysis" in the Journal of Historical Sociology (2012); "Difference in Memory" in Comparative Studies in Society and History (2006), "Looking for Feminism" in Gender & History, (2004), and "What is the EU?" (with József Böröcz) in International Sociology (2005). She is currently working on her second book, provisionally entitled ’Going Abroad’ (Bidesh Kara): Circular/Managed Migration and Bangladeshi Transnational Contract Workers. She has two additional research interests in surrogacy as a form of labour, and socialist internationalism.

Major publications

SARKAR, Mahua.Visible Histories/Disappearing Women: Producing Muslim Womanwood in Late Colonial Bengal. Durham,NC-London, Duke University Press, 2008. Simultaneously pulished: New Delhi, Zubaan Books (South Asian edition), 2008, 338p.


SARKAR, Mahua. “Changing Together,Changing Apart: Urban Muslim and Hindu Women in Pre-Partition Bengal.” History and Memory, Vol. 27, No. 1 (Spring/Summer 2015):5-42


SARKAR, Mahua. “Difference in Memory”, Comparative Studies in Society History, 48, 1 (January 2006): 139-168.


SARKAR Mahua. “Looking for Feminism”, Gender and History, 16,2 (August,2004): 318-333.