ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Deprivation, Abjection, and Dispossession

This article critically examines the relevance of community-identities in and for the contemporary struggles of the most-disadvantaged sections through two case studies from Kerala’s working-class areas, an urban slum and a fishing hamlet, both in Thiruvananthapuram district. It draws upon local histories of these two places which trace the intertwined histories of land, politics, domestic life, and work since the early-mid-20th century. The slum emerged as individuals from different communities and faiths collected there and set up homes and families but did not automatically generate social bonds that transcended individual interests. In sharp contrast, in the fishing hamlet, contrary to the widespread belief that collective empowerment of the poor, civil and political, requires a breaking down of caste-community identities, the resistance to exploitation and dispossession was and is rooted in invocations of the “community” even as several fisher castes organised around the worker identity.

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