Diving into Faculty Scholarship: Dr. Andrea Wright

Posted on April 1, 2022

Our faculty at William & Mary are making great contributions to academia with their research. In our recent blog series, we interview faculty with recent publications for insight into their scholarship.

Alexandra Flores, Instruction & Research Librarian and librarian to Anthropology, spoke to Assistant Professor, Dr. Andrea Wright, about her recently published book, “Between dreams and ghosts : Indian migration and Middle Eastern oil.”

In 2-3 sentences, please describe your scholarship to someone unfamiliar with the field.
Between Dreams and Ghosts: Indian Migration and Middle Eastern Oil is an ethnography of Indian migration to oil and gas projects in the Gulf. More than one million Indians travel annually to work in oil projects in the Gulf; one of the few international destinations where men without formal education can find lucrative employment. Between Dreams and Ghosts follows their migration, from villages in India to oil projects in the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait, and back again.

The front cover of Between Dreams and Ghosts by Andrea Wright

Why might someone be interested in reading this book?
Placing migrants at the center of global capital rather than its periphery, Dr. Wright shows how migrants are not passive bodies at the mercy of abstract forces-and reveals through their experiences a new understanding of contemporary resource extraction, governance, and global labor. 

What was the most exciting/interesting part of this project for you?
There were many parts of the project that I found exciting. For example, I really enjoyed the ethnographic research I conducted in India and the United Arab Emirates for the book. I am grateful to all of the people who were willing to share their daily lives with me. It was an honor to hear their perspectives and learn about their experiences. So many people were generous with their time, including families living in villages in India who have a son or a father  working in the Persian Gulf; migrants who work as manual laborers at oil projects in the Gulf; oil company managers; and government officials that regulate migration.

In addition, I was very curious to look why people decide to migrate, how they find jobs abroad, and what their experiences were when working abroad. A lot of books about migration only look at migrants in their country of origin or in the country they are working in. Instead, I wanted to understand the process of migration. Looking at the process of migration allowed for me to understand how cultural practices and historic contexts shape contemporary migration, governance, and energy production.

How did W&M Libraries help support your scholarship?
W&M Libraries was a huge source of support as I wrote Between Dreams and Ghosts. Every time I speak with a librarian, I learn about new resources available to us at W&M! I feel lucky to work with such knowledgeable and experienced librarians. I think the library resource I used most frequently when writing was Interlibrary Loan, and I’m very impressed with how quickly librarians are able to find and acquire rare texts.

Is there anything else you want to share?
Check out “Between dreams and ghosts : Indian migration and Middle Eastern oil” from W&M Libraries!  

*W&M faculty and staff who wish to be part of this series should complete the form available at https://guides.libraries.wm.edu/pubpromotion