Fleeced: Terrible Life of Migrant Workers (Pacific Standard)

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Pacific Standard“When migrant laborers at New York University’s Abu Dhabi campus raised their voices, striking over pay and working conditions, they were treated to arrests, beaten, or in some cases deported—flung back home in despair and often in debt,” writes Associate Professor of Anthropology Sienna Craig in a Pacific Standard opinion piece.

“Within 24 hours after the New York Times reported on this modern form of indentured servitude, NYU issued an apology to the workers, many of whom hail from Nepal.” The school’s president vowed to transform the school, she writes.

Craig says the vow was a positive step in that the school took responsibility for the situation. “But this is only one example in a sea of similar stories.”

One such story, an extreme and complex example, she writes, is Nepal.

“The factors that have driven nearly four million Nepalis (in a country of 30 million) into migrant labor are linked to the social suffering and personal scars brought on by a brutal civil war (1996-2006), transitions from a Hindu state to a secular republic (2008), and ongoing political instability. Yet the dynamics of Nepali migrant labor are more complex than any political timeline.”

Read the full opinion piece, published 6/16/14 by Pacific Standard.

Craig is chair of the Department of Anthropology and a Dartmouth Public Voices fellow.