1st Edition

Movers and Makers Uncertainty, Resilience and Migrant Creativity in Worlds of Flux

By Parminder Bhachu Copyright 2021
    216 Pages 10 Color & 14 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    216 Pages 10 Color & 14 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    216 Pages 10 Color & 14 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    We live in times of extreme change. There could be no better time than now to interrogate the lives of new kinds of people, movers and makers, who navigate fragility and uncertainty to create with daring, often against great odds. Parminder Bhachu uses their dramatic life stories to uncover what makes for creativity and resilience in times of disequilibrium. What can be learnt from their creative moxie as innovators outside establishment powers? Why has their creative reach grown exponentially in our globally connected twenty-first century? How have their abilities to innovate been catalyzed without subscription to knowledge hierarchies and monopolies? These culturally dexterous movers who possess movement capital, advanced with every migration, have translated ancient maker and craft skills into transforming modern technology, science, design, architecture, and the arts. Generous, inclusive, and deeply collaborative, they are at the heart of open source sharing for collective intelligence, the common good, and the maker movement. They invigorate the economies they reside in greatly enhancing creative capacities and reach. Bhachu, herself a multiple-migrant maker, offers us a model for a hopeful way forward, bringing her unique ethnographic insights to illuminate what can be learnt about thriving in worlds of flux.


    1. Maker origins and migrant creativity

    2. Kuljit Bhamra: artisanal music maker and democratizer of musical knowledge

    3. Bhajan Hunjan: architectural artist - expansive collaboration and material daring

    4. Amarjit Kalsi: lyrical architect and virtuoso draughtsman

    5. Jasleen Kaur: jugaadhan and artist-designer of border-crossing dialogue

    6. Rishi Rich, fearless sound shaper, and Jay Sean, path-breaking singer-songwriter

    7. The Singh Twins: multi-faceted makers and defiant disruptors of the artistic status quo

    8. Suneet Singh Tuli: technologist seeking the maximum good – computing power for the billions

    9. Jatinder Verma: cartographer of spectacular, inclusive theater

    10. Professor Sir Tejinder Virdee: extreme engineering and the quest for the 'god particle'  

    Conclusion. The immigrant imperative - sharing and contributing for the common good


    Parminder Bhachu is the author of both Twice Migrants and Dangerous Designs and also co-editor of both Enterprising Women and Immigration and Entrepreneurship. She is a Professor in the Department of Sociology at Clark University, Massachusetts, USA. She has held a Henry R. Luce Professorship in Cultural Identities and Global Processes and has been a Director of Women’s Studies. She has lived in multiple sites in East Africa, the United Kingdom, and on both the east and west coasts of the United States.

    "Sociologists have been known to spout rubbish about resilience. Don’t let that put you off this unusual, stimulating and deeply thoughtful book. Parminder Bhachu has combined lucid analysis and reflection in truly unprecedented ways. The result is as creative as the itinerant mentalities it celebrates. She contributes artfully to the striking patterns that she has identified. The concept of culture emerges from this sparkling survey in enriched form, elaborated and restored from its ubiquitous trivialisation."

    - Paul Gilroy, University College London, UK

    "There are very few writers who understand the complex context of my body of work. I can always rely on Parminder Bhachu to ‘Get’ the significance of my creative choices like no other. For me, her precious voice from lived experience across four continents gives her analysis of the lives and work of 21st century movers and makers a singular authenticity. She and I and others like us who have inherited a deep and complex history of movement across borders vibrantly assert our version of the world in defiance of the status quo, particularly in times of anxiety and ambivalence. We tell our stories in ways that only we can. It’s the current anxious times that make Movers and Makers a ‘must read’ for today, a feisty riposte to anti-migration rhetoric illuminating a hopeful way for us to negotiate and inspire our collective uncertain future." 

    - Gurinder Chadha OBE, Bend It Networks

    "Another fascinating exploration of the creative aspects of migration from an author who is herself an expert on the subject and a living example of the process. Movers and Makers covers an exciting range of people and topics: artists, architects, designers, computer specialists and physicists. It concludes with an astute discussion of the immigrant imperative that only the author could explore with brilliant insight and an unparalleled knowledge of immigrant creativity."

    - John Stone, Boston University, USA

    "If, as W. E. B.Du Bois stated, the problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color line, then the problem of the twenty-first is the problem of immigration redrawing every border we encounter. Or maybe it isn't a problem but a solution. As Lytton Strachey did in Eminent Victorians, Parminder Bhachu curates for us a portrait gallery of individuals whose odysseys are as admirable as they are emblematic. The cumulative effect is arresting: we are not only who we are but who we share our epoch with. There is much to learn from these characters, primarily that an itinerant life, yours and that of your ancestors, defines your DNA and the way you think of ‘home’." 

    - Ilan Stavans, Amherst College, USA

    "After reading Bhachu's profiles of craft-honing migrant innovators, I never will think of migration - or of art - the same again. Every chapter has compelled me to re-think what is happening on the margins, to reflect afresh on democracy. Here's a wager: I bet that once you've read this book, you too will make ‘jugaad’ central to your understanding of this world."

    - Cynthia Enloe, Clark University, USA

    "The relevance of Parminder Bhachu’ s Movers and Makers to our times cannot be overstated. Drawing on deep personal experience enhanced by her anthropological sensitivity, she has brought an extraordinarily important dimension of multiple migration into sharp focus. Here are excitingly creative makers from a wide range of cultural and social contexts whose very resilience and ability to improvise and thus achieve success have come from their hinterland of pioneering migrant cultures and forms of technical skill or expertise which have accrued directly from their history of movement. This message is not just about the present or recent past – it is also about the deep past and the future. We must all learn from it."

    - Deborah Swallow, Courtauld Institute of Art