Gender, Dowry and the Migration System of Indian Information Technology Professionals Biao Xiang


The current literature on gender and migration focuses largely on women’s experiences as migrants or, alternatively, on their experiences as those left behind. This article, on the contrary, seeks to demonstrate how gender is central in producing a migration system itself. Based on in-depth fieldwork in Sydney (Australia) and Andhra Pradesh (India) on the migration system of Indian information technology (IT) professionals from 2000 to 2001, the article suggests that the gender relations prevalent in Andhra Pradesh, particularly the institution of dowry, have been critical in producing a specially cheap and flexible labour force, and in supporting it in the volatile global economy. In turn, the emergence of a group of mobile IT professionals contributes to the increase of dowry, with disturbing consequences for those underprivileged and seemingly unconcerned with the IT industry.