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Migration, Neoliberal Capitalism, and Islamic Reform in Kozhikode (Calicut), South India

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 May 2011

Filippo Osella
University of Sussex
Caroline Osella
School of Oriental and African Studies, UK


This article explores relationships between religious and economic practices in Kozhikode, a medium-sized city in Kerala. We examine debates concerning the apparent decline of the “bazaar economy” in the face of the onslaught of globalization and the consequent emergence of a “new economy.” The latter is felt locally to be overdetermined by capital and entrepreneurial practices connected, either directly or indirectly, to the combined effects of migration to the Gulf countries of West Asia and to the post-1991 liberalization of the Indian economy. We argue that these public debates are not simply reflections on the harsh reality of economic rationalization, but underscore the production and articulation of specific economies of morality and affect. We also perceive a drawing together of seemingly divergent orientations, sensibilities, and practices—namely, those commonly associated with reformist Islam and what in recent literature has been described as “neoliberal global capitalism.”

Migrant Workers in the Middle East
Copyright © International Labor and Working-Class History, Inc. 2011

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1. Research was funded by the ESRC, Nuffield Foundation, the AHRC and SOAS. Thanks to Dinah Rajak, Jon Mitchell, V. J. Varghese, Jonathan Spencer, Simon Coleman, Dimitris Dalakoglou, and the editors of this special issue for comments on early drafts.

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17. 1 crore = 10.000.000

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21. Pepper can be treated and stored for several years.

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28. For reasons of space we will focus solely on bazaar economy.

29. Joint household.

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