Description

High-Tech Housewives

Indian IT Workers, Gendered Labor, and Transmigration

Amy Bhatt

  • Published: June 2018
  • Subject Listing: Asian Studies / South Asia; Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies; Asian American Studies
  • Bibliographic information: 216 pp., 0 illus
    , 6 x 9 in.
  • Territorial rights: Not Available in South Asia
  • Series: Global South Asia
  • Contents

Tech companies such as Google, Amazon, and Microsoft promote the free flow of data worldwide, while relying on foreign temporary IT workers to build, deliver, and support their products. However, even as IT companies use technology and commerce to transcend national barriers, their transnational employees face significant migration and visa constraints. In this revealing ethnography, Amy Bhatt shines a spotlight on Indian IT migrants and their struggles to navigate career paths, citizenship, and belonging as they move between South Asia and the United States.

Through in-depth interviews, Bhatt explores the complex factors that shape IT transmigration and settlement, looking at Indian cultural norms, kinship obligations, friendship networks, gendered and racialized discrimination in the workplace, and inflexible and unstable visa regimes that create worker vulnerability. In particular, Bhatt highlights women's experiences as workers and dependent spouses who move as part of temporary worker programs. Many of the women interviewed were professional peers to their husbands in India but found themselves "housewives" stateside, unable to secure employment because of visa restrictions. Through her focus on the unpaid and feminized placemaking and caregiving labor these women provide, Bhatt shows how women's labor within the household is vital to the functioning of the flexible and transnational system of IT itself.
Amy Bhatt is associate professor of gender and women's studies at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. She is the coauthor of Roots and Reflections: South Asians in the Pacific Northwest.

"Mapping the arrival of H-1B workers from India and marriage migration, their lives in Seattle, and following them on their return to India, High-Tech Housewives provides a longue durée perspective on Indian transmigrants. Thick with descriptive narrative, High-Tech Housewives takes us into the lives of these individuals."
-Sharmila Rudrappa, author of Discounted Life: The Price of Global Surrogacy in India

"High-Tech Housewives makes a significant contribution to our understanding of the transnational circulation of technical labor, by highlighting the role of the household in the reproduction of the global Indian IT workforce. Through rich ethnographic detail, the book documents the experiences and predicaments of dependent spouses of temporary H1-B visa workers in the US and after their return to India, providing a human face to current debates on immigration. It is a welcome addition to the transnational and migration studies, gender and labor studies, and anthropology."
-Carol Upadhya, author of Reengineering India: Work, Capital, and Class in an Offshore Economy

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