Profile: SaunJuhi Verma

Assistant Professor


Dr. Verma is an Assistant Professor of Labor Studies and Employment Relations in the School of Management and Labor Relations at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. Her program of research is driven by questions about how socio-legal norms, such as immigration and social policies in tandem with economic processes inform the valuation of labor. She uses ethnographic and archival methods to conduct process-centered studies that seek to identify hidden mechanisms that frame labor market inequality.

Her book manuscript, Black Gold, Brown Labor: Selling Migrants in Global Recruitment Markets, is the first to identify how multi-country business partnerships in the regulated economy perpetuate international migration and restructure the valuation of migrant workers within global labor markets. The novel and compelling book offers in-roads for innovations to both theory and methods by evaluating a labor recruitment chain that links the U.S. oil industry to the gulf economies of the Middle East and finally to the expansive labor brokerage industry in India. Her theoretical framework of “industry-driven migration,” outlines how the interests of geographically dispersed and divergent stakeholders, such as U.S. employers, Indian labor brokers, and Indian government officials, coalesce to form a socio-legal infrastructure of duplicitous recruitment practices and diffused accountability for migrant rights. 

The book is a product of innovations in ethnographic and mixed methods. Over the course of a two-year multi-site ethnography, she conducted a study of the U.S. oil industry in which an international recruitment chain was pieced together by interviewing one set of stakeholders at a time. These included Indian low wage guest workers located in various cities across Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas, continuing with respective employers and executives in Houston, Texas, and concluded with labor brokers and prominent bureaucrats located in New Delhi, India. Her book manuscript, informed by the unique data set, aims to shift the focus of migration/immigration scholars to study labor market inequality as an interdependent system of stakeholders with converging socio-legal interests.

Her research record has centered upon evaluations of policy outcomes, such as the impact of labor and immigration laws. For her second book project, supported by the Fulbright Nehru Award, she shifts gears by evaluating policy design. In recent events, the Indian government has proposed an ambitious program to overhaul its welfare efforts by creating individualized biometric identifiers (IDs) for every one of its citizens – over one billion people. This historic moment within one of the world’s largest democracies will serve as a unique study for evaluating contemporary attempts of modernization in state structure. The project offers invaluable insight into how governmental objectives are established and the migration management strategies within sending countries. Specifically, she uses a mixed method study to examine the activities and decision-making of bureaucrats for introducing biometric IDs to regulate India’s growing global migrant population.

Book Manuscript:

Black Gold, Brown Labor: Selling Migrants in Global Recruitment Markets

Curriculum Vitae

  • Education

    Ph.D. University of Chicago

  • Publications

    • Verma, SaunJuhi. “Trade in Migrant Labor: Inter-Organizational Ties and Employer Recruitment During an Economic Downturn” (Under review)
    • Verma, SaunJuhi. “Manipulating the Weaker Sex Schema: Subversive Gendered Action in Bangalore’s Labor Protests” (Under review)
    • SaunJuhi Verma. “Labour Policy and Global Indian Diaspora” Book chapter in Routledge Handbook of the Indian Diaspora. Ed. Radha S. Hegde and Ajaya Sahoo. (forthcoming)
    • Jessi Straub, SaunJuhi Verma, Whitney Welsh, and Linda M. Burton. “Life, Death, and Resurrections: The Culture of Poverty Perspective” Book chapter in Oxford Handbook of Poverty and Society. (forthcoming)
    • Verma, SaunJuhi. Book Review of Vivek Bald. Bengali Harlem and the Lost Histories of South Asian America. Association of Black Sociologists Journal. April 2014
    • Verma, SaunJuhi. Book Review of Reena Patel. Working the Night Shift: Women in India’s Call Center Industry. American Journal of Sociology. No.5 March 2011
    • Verma, SaunJuhi. “New Orleans and the Storm of Katrina: Issues of Trust and Terrain” Book Review of J. Horne and P. Steinberg, R. Shields. Breach of Faith and What is a City?. The Griot: Newsletter of the Association of Black Sociologists. September 2009
    • Verma, SaunJuhi. “Participatory Development: Rhetoric or Reality?” Association for Women in Development, Resource Net 2004 Issue No.194
    • Verma, SaunJuhi. “Gender Mainstreaming and Other Unrealized Development Initiatives” Women’s Rights and Economic Change, 2004 Issue No.3
  • Expertise

    - Immigration/Migration, Economic Sociology, Law & Society, Work & Gender, Race

  • 848-932-4479
  • School of Management and Labor Relations
    Rutgers University
    Labor Education Center
    50 Labor Center Way
    New Brunswick, NJ 08903