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“Trespassers Will be Recruited: Recruitment & Reluctance in the Indian Call Center Economy”

October 21, 2008

The Américo Paredes Center for Cultural Studies presents a talk by Folklore & Public Culture PhD student Mathangi Krishnamurty.

Monday, October 27, 12-1pm
E. P. Schoch building – EPS 1.128
University of Texas at Austin

In this paper, I detail a chapter of my dissertation dealing with recruitment processes in the Indian call center industry. Based on two years of ethnographic research in the city of Pune in Western India, I investigate the variety of practices that seek to maintain the large number of workers required in this Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry.

Even as revenues from the BPO industry continue to add to India’s GDP, the industry faces high levels of attrition and decreasing caches of labor populations. In this paper, I detail the various steps that potential workers have to go through before becoming a call center worker. This paper analyzes media messages, recruitment drives, interviews, orientation sessions and training agendas to trace the ways in which organizations are seeking to make efficient the process of transformation from a young student to a professional worker. I end seeking to discuss what the absurdity of these increasingly desperate processes means for the future of both outsourcing and this urban worker population.

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