Centring Gendered Narratives of the Indian Diaspora

Author Name

Prof. Sandhya Rao Mehta

Author Address

Department of English Language and Literature, Sultan Qaboos University, Oman, [email protected], [email protected]


engendering diaspora, domestic workers, Oman, Indian diaspora


Coupled with the assumption that diaspora etymologically associates geographical movement with male agency, this study examines the multiple ways in which gender has hitherto remained marginal to narratives of diaspora. Studies on the Indian diaspora have often shown that women have not traditionally been active agents, and that the decision of moving is often a male one.  This privileges the male narrative at the expense of numerous, undocumented narratives of women who have travelled, forcibly or otherwise, to different parts of the world over the course of the last three centuries. This study investigates existing scholarship on gender and diaspora, focussing on the lacunae of studies on socially disadvantaged women outside the first world. Tracing the rise in diaspora studies over the last three decades, it underlines the way in which diaspora has been determined by class, often rendering invisible a number of women who add to the national economy by working in the Middle East, only briefly focussing on them as victims of exploitation, as suggested by the mainstream media.  Diaspora scholarship has largely excluded the lives of those outside the borders of established feminist studies which often privilege narratives of victimhood and exploitation. This study calls for the incorporation of women’s migration to be incorporated into the framework of diaspora studies, centring the various layers of the migrant experience and moving beyond the binaries of gendered spaces.


International Conference on "Global Migration: Rethinking Skills, Knowledge and Culture"
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