November 16: Benjamin Helms (UVA)

Monday, November 16

Benjamin Helms (UVA), “On the Move in a Globalizing Economy: Globalization and Nativism in the Developing World.”

Abstract: How has the global spread of economic production shaped domestic political outcomes? Traditional international political economy (IPE) accounts often treat salient economic characteristics like the internal geographic distribution of labor as exogenous to globalization itself. I instead argue that globally oriented production can foster greater geographic labor mobility because it changes the returns to internal migration. This endogenously generated mobility has significant domestic political consequences, especially in contexts where internal migration is politically contentious. I explore these dynamics in the context of the Indian textile sector, in which the primary labor pool is comprised of relatively low-skilled internal migrants. India experienced a sudden positive shock to export-oriented production following the expiration of the Multi-Fiber Arrangement (MFA) in 2005, which eliminated previously binding quotas on Indian textile producers. I show that this shock a)increased out-of-state migration into areas with textile industry concentrations, b) increased rioting in exposed localities, an activity closely related to native-migrant conflict in India, and c) drove increased electoral support for nativist political parties in the Indian state of Maharashtra. The findings shed light on the relationship between globalization and nativist politics in a developing country context, in which such dynamics are far less understood than in advanced economies.