Being a tribal man from the North-East: Migration, Morality and Masculinity by Duncan McDuie-Ra

By Hoineilhing Sitlhou

Duncan McDuie-Ra is an Australian academician who has done extensive research on the subject of Northeast migrants in New Delhi. He has written numerous articles on Northeast Indian culture and society, all of which are published in reputed journals and are excerpt from his more critically acclaimed book ‘Northeast Migrants in Delhi: Race, Refuge and Retail’. The article highlights the intersection between masculinity, ethnicity and migration within national boundaries with particular references to the Northeast frontier of India. For McDuie-Ra the theory that ‘migration cause the production and reproduction of masculine norms’ is relevant to understand the tribals of Northeast India. In Delhi, the concept of masculinity is reshaped in the face of changing gender relations and the status of tribals as a minority ethnic community. The article used the interpretative paradigm of study. He conducted ethnographic field research in Delhi from December 2010 to February 2011 and again in December 2011. The research is also informed by ten years of regular ethnographic fieldwork in Northeast India itself, primarily in Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya and Nagaland. The author established rapport, lived and interacted with his respondent in order to understand their everyday experiences and realities. In Delhi, the author lived in a North easterner’s neighbourhood, travelled with tribal migrants around the city and conducted interviews and conversations in the places where tribal migrants live, work and study. Delhi was chosen as the universe of study to understand the problem of tribal migration for three reasons: First, it has the largest community of tribal migrants outside the Northeast region, second, the tribal community in Delhi is more diverse and third, Delhi is the ultimate choice of destination for the tribals either to pursue their education or career.

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