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Keywords:

  • PAKISTAN;
  • MIGRATION;
  • TRANSNATIONALISM;
  • BODY;
  • GENDER

Abstract

In this article, I examine the narratives of migrant Pakistani men in their fifties and sixties, who became chronically ill over the course of their working lives in London. The men's life histories show that the body, and in particular the labouring body, needs more sustained attention in migration studies. Their narratives tell of how the physical toll of industrial labour resulted in chronic ill health, unemployment and various forms of ‘redundant masculinities’. Moreover, the impoverishment that frequently followed from ill health ate away at local social status and transnational relationships. I argue that the existing work on transnationalism has normalized the experiences of an entrepreneurial migrant elite and obscured those of migrants who are bound to one place by force of circumstance. Chronic ill health is not merely the experience of a minority who fall between the cracks of epidemiological studies on ‘healthy migrants’, as some have recently suggested, but rather, common to industrial labour migration.