Anthropologist Dolly Kikon (left) during the official launch of her book in Kohima Credit: EastMojo image

Kohima: Anthropologist Dolly Kikon, a senior lecturer in the anthropology and development studies at the University of Melbourne, on Monday published her second book, Leaving the Land, at the Made in Nagaland Centre in Kohima.

Speaking at the launch, Kikon said that her decision behind the book was to research and focus on migration. She also highlighted the need for young migrants to be protected. “I wanted to understand where it [migration] was going,: she said as she added that there was a wide scope to understand it theoretically.

“I started with the lens of indigenity and exploitation,” she said as she began to explain the perspective of her writing. Kikon mentioned that through the research, it was observed that the youth from the Northeast region had been migrating to metropolitan cities with a common desire to become “professional” and grow “global”. Kikon acknowledged the energy that radiated from most of her respondents and added saying that there was a “longing for dignity” among these youths.

Author Dolly Kikon taking part in a panel discussion during the launch event of her book, ‘Leaving the Land’

She raised the issues concerning health and highlight that the migrating youths are being exploited at workplaces — economically, psychologically, physically, emphasising that such issues need to be addressed as it is “increasingly important”. Kikon raised and questioned about the rights of these migrants that are often not addressed.

A common “pattern” among respondents migrating to the cities, according to her finding, is the characteristics of the city. She said that while addressing migration-related issues are important, engaging with entrepreneurs and stakeholders for the same, is equally important.

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She also spoke about the “tag” of belonging from a “hospital community” which is often used by many to refer to people from the region. She questioned about the rights of these migrants in cities, and mentioned that there is need to understand and realise the focus of these migrants in the various avenues across the country.

Kikon lauded growing agencies like YouthNet for giving a place for research and a platform for young minds to be groomed. She emphasised on the urgent need for the government to take it seriously.

In a panel discussion that followed, a unanimous understanding of why youths from the region migrate to other cities centred around the need for employment and the need to acquire higher education. To this, Kikon added that conflict and poverty were other reasons that were recorded in her findings.

When an audience queried about if the movements (migration) of the people as highlighted in her text also reflects from a political perspective, she said: “Anything to do with movement is highly political,” adding that the government must consider these issues.

Meanwhile, YouthNet co-chair Hekani Jakhalu, pointed out how, in recent years, her non-profit organisation has taken a U-turn by encouraging the youths to move outside the state to enable them to learn and experience, as the state is unable to accommodate human resources. She pointed out that youths, under their care, were trained to be “ambassadors of Nagaland” and groomed to be accountable.

Following the discussion, the book was formally released by Mmhonlumo Kikon, Adviser IT, new & renewable energy, who later congratulated Dolly Kikon on the release of her second book from the state’s capital.

While noting that there is policy disconnect between all stakeholders, he said that it is necessary for policy makers to bridge gap and assured that the issues that were discussed in the panel discussion will be informed to the government.

He also suggested advocating such concerns at schools level to create more awareness among the youth and in the meantime encourage more research on such studies.

He said that with emphasis on music and sports, there is need to equally emphasis on such issues and urged for the need for all stakeholders to be informed and inform each other. He said that, having read the book, the issues raised by Dolly Kikon, including the issue addressing migrants after their return from cities, is mindful.

Leaving the Land: Indigenous Migration and Affective Labour in India is co-authored by Bengt G Karlsson, professor of Anthropology at Stockholm University.

Meanwhile, Kikon’s first book, Living with Oil and Coal: Resource politics and Militarization in Northeast India, was published this year. Her other works include Life and Dignity: Women’s Testimonies of Sexual Violence in Dimapur (2015).

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