Ranabir Samaddar

Ranabir Samaddar is Distinguished Chair in Migration and Forced Migration Studies, Calcutta Research Group, Kolkata, India. He belongs to the critical school of thinking. He has pioneered along with others peace studies programmes in South Asia and has worked extensively on issues of justice and rights in the context of conflicts in South Asia.

He is considered as one of the foremost theorists in migration and forced migration studies. His writings on migration, forms of labour, urbanisation, and political struggles have signalled a new turn in postcolonial thinking. Among his influential works is The Marginal Nation: Transborder Migration from Bangladesh to West Bengal (1999). His recent works are Karl Marx and the Postcolonial Age (2018); The Crisis of 1974: Railway Strike and the Rank and File (2016); and Beyond Kolkata: Rajarhat and the Dystopia of Urban Imagination (2014, co-authored). 

Mahanirban Calcutta Research Group Distinguished Chair on Migration and Forced Migration Studies

 

Fellowships

Fellowships
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During his Fellowship, Ranabir Samaddar is working on the interpretation of select thinkers, texts, and events - an interpretative act as a way to imagine a different future. The work will suggest that interpretation is not simply an act of reading as an intellectual vocation, but an activity that is organic to our task of coping with our present, more importantly working for a transformative future. In this exercise the work will stay on two axes: (a) The interpretative act is a contextual act. The postcolonial condition overwhelming the globe is the context in which the work will seek to understand some of the seminal thinkers, texts, and events of our time. (b) Yet if our interpretative act has to be transformative, it must think with our contemporary history - of nationalism, social contentions, caste, race, religion, population politics, popular interventions from below including biopolitical interventions by the lower orders of the society, migrant labor flows, solidarity, and various associated insurgent ideas - that offers thoughts and has produced events, which call for such radical interpretation. This work will be a small effort towards such an exercise. Re-reading some of the critical thinkers and texts of contemporary time takes place in this work in a postcolonial context. The methodological problematic the work will address is, namely, how does one bring the heterogeneity of contexts to bear upon the singularity of a transformative exercise of interpretation?

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I am finalizing my book, provisionally titled “The Postcolonial Age of Migration”. The book’s sub-themes are (i) postcolonial histories of immigration, (ii) the refugee and migrant economy, (iii) statelessness, (iv) the dissociation of power and responsibility in the refugee care regime, (v) promises and paradoxes of a global humanitarian compact, (vi) the sociological significance of the keywords in the literature on refugee care, (vii) the refugee “crisis” in European history, and (viii) revisiting Stephen Castles’ classic “The Age of Migration”, plus an introductory chapter. I will be revising and binding them together into a book.

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Ranabir Samaddar spent two months at the IWM during 2018 as a Visiting Fellow.

Publications