On the Spectacle of Walking

The Migrant Worker and the Mobility Regime


  • Avishek Ray NIT Silchar




Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, in the face of the 21-day nation-wide lockdown imposed in India since 22 March 2020, the migrant worker has become the focal point of public discourse. With public transports being cancelled and the inter-state borders sealed for public transportation, thousands of migrant workers -- particularly, from the national capital, New Delhi -- are literally walking hundreds of miles to travel to their homes. This article is a brief response to the optics of imagery: how the walk of the migrant workers is visibilized with reference to the so-called mobility regime. It discusses how the images of migrant workers walking have generated powerful affect that pierces the spectatorial passivity of the ‘distant’ viewers including the elite travelers and the academics.