Reflections on India’s LGBTQ Rights Ruling in The Conversation

Check out my piece in The Conversation about India’s historic ruling in favor of LGBTQ rights!

From India’s sodomy ban, now ruled illegal, was a British colonial legacy:

“The Indian Supreme Court has legalized homosexuality, overturning a 157-year ban on consensual gay sex.

In a nearly 500-page unanimous decision issued on Sept. 6, India’s highest court affirmed that “whenever the constitutional courts come across a situation of transgression or dereliction in the sphere of fundamental rights which are also the basic human rights of a section, howsoever small part of the society, then it is for the constitutional courts to ensure that constitutional morality prevails over social morality.”

Gay rights advocates worldwide celebrated the legal victory, which came after nearly a decade of contentious court battles against a British colonial law criminalizing homosexual acts….”

Women Who Ask

I had the chance to speak with the amazing Heather Mills, attorney, negotiation specialist, and owner of Women Who Ask for her monthly podcast. Check out the full interview on her blog here:

Join us Wed @ noon PT for an Interview with Dr. Amy Bhatt: The Career Choices that Have the Biggest Impact on Our Long Term Earnings

Posted by Women Who Ask with Heather Mills on Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Keeping “Dependents” Dependent for The Society Pages

In May, I had the opportunity to write for The Society Pages, a publication of the Council on Contemporary Families. You can check out my piece here!

Excerpt from “Keeping ‘Dependents’ Dependent”:

“On April 24, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services rang the death knell on work authorization for spouses of high-skilled immigrant workers. Under the direction of the White House, the USCIS conducted an audit of the H-1B guest worker program, specifically to see if it complies with the President’s Buy American, Hire American executive order. In a report submitted to the Senate Judiciary Committee, the director of the USCIS proposed sweeping changes to the program, including removing regulations that would allow the spouses of H-1B workers to obtain work permits.

Despite being an established program for almost thirty years, the H-1B program has become a target for the current administration. The H-1B visa program first came into existence after the passage of the 1990 Immigration Act.  As the tech boom of the 1990s and rising fears about “Y2K” created a demand for technically-trained labor, U.S. companies began to seek workers from around the world.  The H-1B is given to workers in “specialized and complex” jobs. Typically issued for three to six years, the visa allows employers to hire foreign workers.”

 

High-Tech Housewives Arrives!

My latest book, High-Tech Housewives: Indian IT Migrants, Gendered Labor, and Transmigration, was published by The University of Washington Press! You can order you copy here:

High-Tech Housewives

Indian IT Workers, Gendered Labor, and Transmigration


Tech companies such as Google, Amazon, and Microsoft promote the free flow of data worldwide, while relying on foreign temporary IT workers to build, deliver, and support their products. However, even as IT companies use technology and commerce to transcend national barriers, their transnational employees face significant migration and visa constraints. In this revealing ethnography, Amy Bhatt shines a spotlight on Indian IT migrants and their struggles to navigate career paths, citizenship, and belonging as they move between South Asia and the United States.

Through in-depth interviews, Bhatt explores the complex factors that shape IT transmigration and settlement, looking at Indian cultural norms, kinship obligations, friendship networks, gendered and racialized discrimination in the workplace, and inflexible and unstable visa regimes that create worker vulnerability. In particular, Bhatt highlights women’s experiences as workers and dependent spouses who move as part of temporary worker programs. Many of the women interviewed were professional peers to their husbands in India but found themselves “housewives” stateside, unable to secure employment because of visa restrictions. Through her focus on the unpaid and feminized placemaking and caregiving labor these women provide, Bhatt shows how women’s labor within the household is vital to the functioning of the flexible and transnational system of IT itself.

Amy Bhatt is associate professor of gender and women’s studies at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. She is the coauthor of Roots and Reflections: South Asians in the Pacific Northwest.

“Mapping the arrival of H-1B workers from India and marriage migration, their lives in Seattle, and following them on their return to India, High-Tech Housewives provides a longue durée perspective on Indian transmigrants. Thick with descriptive narrative, High-Tech Housewives takes us into the lives of these individuals.”
-Sharmila Rudrappa, author of Discounted Life: The Price of Global Surrogacy in India
High-Tech Housewives makes a significant contribution to our understanding of the transnational circulation of technical labor, by highlighting the role of the household in the reproduction of the global Indian IT workforce. Through rich ethnographic detail, the book documents the experiences and predicaments of dependent spouses of temporary H1-B visa workers in the US and after their return to India, providing a human face to current debates on immigration. It is a welcome addition to the transnational and migration studies, gender and labor studies, and anthropology.”
-Carol Upadhya, author of Reengineering India: Work, Capital, and Class in an Offshore Economy

“A seminal book about how US immigration policy influences the lives of temporary workers and their families, many of whom find themselves in liminal spaces, in between nations, homes, and employment. Amy Bhatt provides readers with a clearer understanding of the problematic positions that Indian temporary workers and their families face as a result of immigration laws that prioritize economic gain over the needs of migrants.”
-Deepa Iyer, author of We Too Sing America: South Asian, Arab, Muslim, and Sikh Immigrants Shape Our Multiracial Future

“A thoughtful examination of how immigrant women build lives and labor within the constraints of the US state, high-tech capitalism, and transnationalism, and enable a global economy.”
-Pawan Dhingra, Amherst College

High-Tech Housewives provides a long overdue study on the large but overlooked group of temporary migrant professionals in the United States, H-1B workers, and their dependents, H-4 visa holders. This book makes an invaluable contribution by focusing on the plight of H-4 dependents, the wives, who are multiply displaced by their disqualification from labor market participation, increasing their dependence on their husbands and heightening the isolation of their migration.”
-Rhacel Salazar Parreñas, author of Servants of Globalization: Migration and Domestic Work

“Amy Bhatt offers an empirically rich, theoretically nuanced account of high-tech immigration to the United States, drawing important attention to the interplay of gender, occupation, and family dynamics. This book is essential reading on how the ‘temporary’ migration of high-skilled workers and their families are fundamentally reshaping our notions of citizenship, social relations, and national belonging.”
-Karthick Ramakrishnan, director of AAPI Data and professor of public policy, University of California Riverside

Building on #MeToo’s Momentum to Embrace Our Voices

I, along with several great colleagues, were quoted in this piece by  about the #MeToo movement in Ms. Magazine:

“In India, #MeToo is hardly the first digital turning point in the fight to end rape and sexual assault. “An attempt has been made in India to protect women,” says Amy Bhatt, associate professor of Gender and Women’s Studies, “but legislation has mostly been used to limit women, rather than to protect them. Young women activists are pushing against that and using these type of hybrid online and in personal awareness-raising campaigns to create change and demand accountability.””

 

Little India-End of the American Dream?

Check out this article by Zofeen Maqsood in Little India about the changing and challenging immigration landscape that South Asian immigrants are facing under the Trump administration:

An excerpt from End of the American Dream:

“The media has focused extensively on the Trump administration’s harsher policies against undocumented immigrants, travel bans from Muslim majority countries, and building a wall at the southern border.

Dr. Amy Bhatt

Dr. Amy Bhatt, associate professor of Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of Maryland, Baltimore, says: “I think there is a problem with thinking of this as just a H-1B or H-4 problem. The current administration is attacking immigrants on all fronts, from Dreamers and DACA recipients, to people who have been living and contributing to the U.S. economy without documentation, to refugees and asylum seekers.”

 

Analysis in The Indian Express

I had the pleasure of writing for the #GenderAnd series in The Indian Express. In this piece, “From dependents to deportees: How US immigration policy is impacting Indian families,” I write about the impacts that changes to the H-1B/H-4 visa program are likely to have on Indian families in the U.S. and call for greater immigrant alliances.

“The case of high-skilled migration is only one front of the anti-immigration onslaught. Even though the rationale of H-1B/H-4 restrictions are presumably to benefit American workers, there is a more insidious goal: reducing the numbers of immigrant families overall. Now framed as “chain migration,” new attempts to cut back on family based immigration for all are afoot in Congress and the White House.” Read more.