“One More Dirham”: Migration, Emotional Politics and Religion in the Home Films of Kerala

Bindu Menon, T T Sreekumar


This article explores the Islamic home-film movement in Kerala, India, a video film movement by amateur filmmakers of the Muslim Community. These films circulate in VCD and DVD format in retail outlets in both Kerala and the Gulf Council Countries (GCC). These films are important for their supporting group, Jamaat-e-islami, one of the most powerful Islamist groups in the South Asian countries of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, as they try to gain hegemony among Kerala’s Sunni Muslims through an alternative Islamic public culture. Home-films now circulate beyond their original audience of Muslim women in Kerala, among Keralite migrants in the Arab Gulf, who organize public screenings in social gatherings and labour camps. Indeed, the large-scale migration of labor to the GCC has led to a re-imagination of the moral geography of Kerala Muslim households to account for changing gender norms and family structures. The films, concerned with social reform among the Muslim Community of Kerala, also refract the experience of migration to the GCC, particularly in narrating an emotional landscape characterized by precarious conditions of labour, racialised hierarchy and the kafala (the specific employment system in many GCCs, that is a combination of a contract and patronage) through specific tropes of precarity and philosophy of risk in these films.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.18357/mmd22201615029

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