Downwardly Global: Women, Work, and Citizenship in the Pakistani Diaspora
Bodies and Bureaucracies
The question I received most in the field was, “How does this unemployment happen?” To attempt an answer, the chapter examines the tension between two explanations for the sustained unemployment of foreign trained professionals: bureaucratic miscommunication versus bodily difference. In conversations with a range of social actors, the unemployment of foreign workers is universally understood as a problem of bureaucracy, while my fieldwork demonstrated that at the level of the everyday, unemployment is treated as a problem of the body. This chapter juxtaposes these two kinds of explanations to explore the space of contact between an imagined immigrant Other and an equally imagined sanitized West, and what it means to be a flexible worker in late capitalism. Regulatory regimes traced historically to colonial modernist projects of empire and civilization are relevant in the contemporary sanitized sensorium, where certain aspects of Otherness have become a personalized handicap to be trained away.