This paper contributes to the current scholarship on migration brokerage and infrastructure by revealing the contingent, experimental, and dynamic nature of recruiting work for 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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Tina Shrestha has a PhD in Sociocultural Anthropology from Cornell University. She is currently an assistant professor at the Waseda Institute for Advanced Study (WIAS), Waseda University, conducting research on education-consultancies and language institutions facilitating Nepali migration to Japan. Prior to joining WIAS, she was a postdoctoral fellow at the Asia Research Institute, the National University of Singapore. Her recent publications include “Kaagaz banaune: The collective practice of moral suffering in the asylum experience of Nepalis in the United States” (Studies in Nepali History and Society 20, 1 ), “ ‘Learning English, speaking Hindi’: the paradox of (language) integration among Nepalis in the United States” (In Refugee Resettlement in the United States: Language, Pedagogy, Policy, Emily Feurherm and Vaidehi Ramanathan, eds., Multilingual Matters, 2015), and has articles forthcoming in Pacific Affairs (2018) and
【Contact】Prof. Tatsuro Fujikura fujikura[at]asafas.kyoto-u.ac.