1st Edition

Masculinity and Modern Slavery in Nepal Transitions into Freedom

By Matthew Maycock Copyright 2019
    214 Pages
    by Routledge

    214 Pages 5 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    South Asia is the region with the highest number of slaves globally according to the Global Slavery Index. Bonded labour affects between 15 and 20 million labourers within the region, and is shaped by locally specific interconnections between ethnicity, class, caste and, critically, gender structures. Masculinity and Modern Slavery in Nepal explores the role of masculinity in shaping the structures and experience of slavery and subsequent freedom.

    While many I/NGOs and human rights organisations use freedom from slavery as a powerful and emotive goal, the lived reality of freedom for many bonded labourers often results in disappointment and frustration as they navigate diverse expectations of masculinity. Taking Nepal as a case study, the book illustrates how men’s gendered experiences of bondedness and freedom can inform perspectives on the transition to freedom and modernity in South Asia more broadly. Researchers of modern slavery, gender studies, and South Asian studies will be interested in the rich analysis on offer in this book.

    List of Figures

    List of Tables

    Use of Tharu/Nepali Words and Calendar


    List of Abbreviations

    Chapter 1 – Introduction

    Chapter 2 Bonded labour in South Asia and the Kamaiya system in Nepal

    Chapter 3 The setting; far-west Nepal and the two field sites

    Chapter 4 Bodies, consumption and health after freedom

    Chapter 5 Work, Education and Mobility after freedom

    Chapter 6 Relationships and families after freedom

    Chapter 7 – Conclusion



    Matthew Maycock is a Learning and Development Researcher at the Scottish Prison Service, UK and Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Glasgow. ‎

    "What does it mean to be ‘free’? Maycock’s work on bonded labour in South Asia is an important contribution to the discussions and debates around modern slavery. By paying attention to the emergent expressions, perceptions and experiences of freedom, this book links the ethnographic specificity of the Kamaiya system of Nepal with the larger, global debates on contemporary slavery. Maycock adds to our understanding of subaltern masculinities and the historical and political contexts of masculinity and servitude." -- Radhika Chopra, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, University of Delhi, India

    "This is an extremely valuable addition to the growing body of work that addresses masculine identities in the South Asian context. The book's ethnographic focus on subaltern masculinities is still a largely under-explored topic for the region. Maycock's analysis of the lives and actions of men from the Kamaiya (bonded labour) community of Nepal not only provides important insights into the meaning of 'slavery' and 'freedom', but also allows for a sophisticated understanding of relationships between masculinity and the symbolism of property, consumption, education, marriage, fatherhood and family life. The book will be of great interest to both scholars and practitioners who seek a nuanced engagement with processes of 'development'." -- Sanjay Srivastava, Institute of Economic Growth, Delhi, India

    "This book is about the complexity in one of the oldest forms of slavery in the world, the Kamaiya slavery of Nepal. Kamaiya slavery is equally complicated - a cocktail of the caste system, religion, warped masculinity, violence, ethnic discrimination, and a tough physical environment. This book provides exactly the kind of insight we need to get to grips with the slavery of today. It pries us loose from simplistic know-it-all ideas that conceal the tangled and tortuous, but crucial, fac