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Aspirational Infrastructure: Everyday Brokerage and the Foreign-Employment Recruitment Agencies in Nepal

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This article contributes to the current scholarship on migration brokerage and infrastructure by revealing the contingent, experimental, and dynamic nature of recruiting work in foreign-employment recruitment agencies (FERAs) in Nepal. By situating Nepal's migration infrastructure, or foreign employment (baidesik rojgar), within the nation's social history and long-standing discourse on development (bikas), this paper argues for the importance of tracing the experimental character of an emergent migration infrastructure. In particular, I develop the concept of "aspirational infrastructure," by which I mean the oft-overlooked experimental practices and practicalities that shape and direct the aspirations of those involved in foreign-employment recruitment work. The ethnography traces the intense encounter, intermediation, and interaction among the actors engaged in brokerage activities at FERA social spaces, where recruiters shape not only the social imaginaries and aspirations of potential migrants, but also their own. The recruitment work and migration brokerage rely on balancing the renewed vision and familiar discourse surrounding the "promise of livelihood," and the reconfiguration of existing institutional norms, ultimately serving the state's reprioritization of maintaining its "developing" status.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2018

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