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Keywords:

  • outsourcing;
  • India;
  • identity;
  • globalization;
  • representation

Abstract

This article is an ethnographic study of Indian call center employees, seeking to determine the effects that these jobs have on their identities as Indians as well as consumers and citizens of the global economy. It engages with the large, skilled, cost-effective, English-speaking workforce in this industry in India to explore and nuance dichotomous media discourses of emancipation and regression and to place identity formation within these constructions. The article investigates call centers as specific urban imaginaries, which while indicative of strategies of globalization are also local specificities creating and fostering subjectivities encompassing a particular moment in the trajectory of economic liberalization in India. The discussion is anchored by the insistence on an urban reality that inscribes global capital in tension, collusion and coalition with the microcosmic practices of the local.