Bodies That (Don't) Matter: Desire, Eroticism and Melancholia in Pakistani Labour Migration
Title: Bodies That (Don't) Matter: Desire, Eroticism and Melancholia in Pakistani Labour Migration
Author: AHMAD, Ali Nobil
Publisher: Routledge Journals, Taylor & Francis Ltd
Citation: Mobilities, 2009, 4, 3, 309-327
This paper explores the importance of sexuality in international labour migration from Pakistan, paying special attention to masculine desire and subjectivity (driving forces in sending contexts), and to the bodily experience of travel, transit and the labour process (consequences at destination). The relationships between these two aspects of the migration process are theorised by applying the insights of classical and Lacanian psychoanalysis, Georges Bataille's 'base materialism' and contemporary queer theory to empirical data - interviews with migrant men in London and Florence. It is argued that a theoretically nuanced approach which resists rigid distinctions between sexuality and the economic sphere is required if we are to understand the dynamics of love, sex and romance in migrations that take place against a backdrop of global inequity and intensifying migration controls - dynamics that include the intimate connections between commodity fetishism and scopophilia; between sex and death (via eroticism); between the labour process and a sense of gendered, melancholic loss. The political imperative for such an approach is considerable when we consider the limits of extant academic and media discourse on the populations in question.
Subject: Desire; eroticism; melancholia; gender; sexuality; Pakistani labour migrants
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