Migrant workers, Gurugram, India, by Mridul Sharma for Lockstitch Lives.
My research focuses on migration, supply chains, and gender, caste and race in the global economy. Bringing together law, interdisciplinary social sciences, and social theory, I develop empirically grounded theories of migration and supply chain governance with relevance for the development and enforcement of international, national, and local law. I seek to advance urgent global conversations on new migration and global supply chain governance paradigms that promote decent work and address gender-based violence on supply chains and at all stages of the migration process.
To this end, I have spent the last six years conducting research on labor migration and mobility in South Asia, the Middle East, and East Africa. My approach advances legal and academic scholarship, and civil society engagement in regulatory framing and enforcement. I inform emerging legal frameworks and academic debates with field research from difficult to access field sites; and provide hands-on support to civil society organizations on structured data collection that feeds into international legal and other reporting structures. These complementary dimensions of my research practice strengthen information flows on global labor migration and value chain governance, with long lasting implications for transforming inequalities of power in knowledge generation.
Global Migration Governance
My research on global migration governance seeks to advance an empirically grounded theory of migration corridors—circuits of human mobility within and across borders that are governed by both national border administration, and transnational financial, political, and social forces. While acknowledging the powerful insights and political understanding generated by placing borders at the center of migration studies, my approach to studying migration corridors foregrounds mobility as the object of study. This focus on mobility rather than boundaries brings internal and international migration within the same framework of analysis, making space for understanding the fluidity between migration within and across territorial boundaries. My study of migration corridors and their governance encompasses a range of sites, including borders, detention centers, cities, special economic zones, and worksites. I research migration governance under international, national, and local laws, and consider how these varied legal regimes articulate in relationship to economic and social governance regimes, with a focus on gender, caste, and race in the global economy.
Global Value Chain Governance
My research on global value chain governance focuses on laws that structure value extraction on global supply chains. I am particularly interested in the legal frameworks that facilitate Monopsony Capitalism, market control by dominant buyers over many sellers (Ashok Kumar 2020) and the implications of these economic arrangements for worker rights in the global economy. My research in this area engages how intellectual property rights structure global value chains, including by facilitating varying degrees of monopoly and oligopoly in product markets in the headquarter economies of lead firms. This research has significant implications for risk allocation in commercial contracting, and the potential for binding due diligence frameworks and enforceable brand agreements in upholding labor and human rights.
Gender, Race and Caste in the Global Economy
My work on gender, race, and caste in the global economy is an independent research area, and a cross-cutting dimension of my work on migration corridors, global value chains, and labor market governance. My focus on the experiences of women from social groups impacted by race and caste-based discrimination provides a prism for understanding interactions between gendered, caste-based, and racialized social governance and legal, financial, and political regimes.