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

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Gender, Religion, and Virtual Diasporas

The rise of web-based social spaces has expanded the political sphere beyond the boundaries of the nation state, while also disseminating and shaping religious ideologies. Minority groups in diasporas use their increasing online representation to challenge mainstream perceptions about them and to create transnational virtual communities. The gendered constructions of Hindu identities in the virtual sphere are analysed here, examining the discourses of Hindu conservative groups and post-immigrant progressive groups.

Feminisms in the United States Diaspora

With a focus on “Indian” feminisms in the United States diaspora, based on their experiences as academics committed to social justice issues, two types of activism—efforts to challenge violence against women and to address knowledge hierarchies—are outlined.As the work for gendered justice includes the need to challenge mainstream and community forces, the dynamic fissures and coalitions that construct the cadences of Indian–American feminisms in the us diaspora are delineated.

Women Migrants and Social Remittances

An ethnographic study of the women migrants in Barkas, an old Arabian neighbourhood in Hyderabad, shows that women migrants over the years have moved from being the so-called dependant migrants to noteworthy contributors to the development of links between the sending and the receiving nations. Making a departure from the earlier studies of diasporas, this paper points to the fact that despite being involved in circular migration, and even in their gendered roles, women can affect the formation of the diasporas through their social remittances.

Making History and Shaping Feminism

A historically grounded account of South African feminists, who were the products of an apartheid, colonial, and largely patriarchal society, is discussed, with a focus on personal narrative. The voices of seven South African Indian struggle icons—Phyllis Naidoo, Poomoney Moodley, Ela Gandhi, Judge Navanethem Pillay, Amina Cachalia, Rajes Pillay and Munniamah Naidoo—who dispelled the prescriptive role of women as understood in the country and among the Indian community are highlighted. They were the game changers who made history and shaped interpretations of feminism in South Africa.

Minority Struggles and Quiet Activism

The challenges that “minority” women encounter in Australia play a crucial role in expanding the language of feminism. From the author’s position as a diasporic Australian woman of Anglo-Indian Christian heritage, she explores the emotional struggle to challenge institutional racism in a country where whiteness provides symbolic and material privileges. This struggle has its roots in everyday acts of “quiet” activism that unfolded in Kolkata, India, where she was born. She had failed to see these as performances of feminism, however, because it veered away from the Brahminism of the feminist movement. The event of migration and racialisation as “ethnic,” “NESB” and “Indian” was a visceral experience that opened her eyes to the possibilities for more hopeful futures in Australian cities.

South Asian Feminisms in Britain

A distinctive South Asian feminist voice emerged in Britain out of the existing forms of self-organisation and resistance within minority communities, located at the intersection of gender, race and class. An outline is presented here of the nature and effects of four decades of activism, policy interventions, and practice by South Asian feminist groups in Britain. This activism is located within the context of government policy and statutory practice that has shifted from multiculturalism to multi-faithism, and highlights the implications for women’s and girls’ rights, and the costs to secular feminist provision, particularly in relation to combatting violence against women and girls. How the recent neo-liberal policies of austerity and shrinking welfare provision pose key ideological challenges for South Asian feminist organising is analysed.

The New Kashmiri Woman

Influenced by the leftist ideals of the Naya Kashmir manifesto, the post-partition state governments in Kashmir sought to empower its women. Scholarly work on this period covers how it was a particularly liberating moment for Kashmir’s women. Using an autobiography and oral history, the existing scholarship on the meanings of the “Naya Kashmir” moment for Kashmir’s women is critiqued. Even while Kashmiri women were able to benefit from a number of economic and educational opportunities, we must be cognizant of the ways in which the state became the purveyor of patriarchy. One of the shortcomings of this period of state-sponsored feminism was that no indigenous, grass-roots women’s movement emerged in Kashmir, given that those working on women’s issues in Kashmir were exclusively dependent on the state, which was becoming deeply contested and politicised.

The Intimate World of Vyestoan

Through ethnographic vignettes and auto-ethnographic fragments of women’s intimate worlds in Kashmir, women’s congregations, female alliances, friendships, embodied practices, and everyday memory projects are examined, arguing that these constitute an alternate affect and episteme in Kashmir. The concept of vyestoan is introduced as a critical, affective female alliance and companionship of resistance hinged on the notion of witnessing, in life, death, and beyond. This critical female alliance, against several interlocked forms of domination, is proposed as a useful term, rather than the notion of “sisterhood” in feminist scholarship, to understand intersectionality and criticality particularly in the context of Kashmir.

Jinn, Floods, and Resistant Ecological Imaginaries in Kashmir

How Kashmiri women experience and narrate questions of resource sovereignty and dispossession within the context of Kashmir’s long-drawn-out military occupation, and India’s investments in mega hydroelectric dams on Kashmir’s rivers have been discussed. The devastating floods in 2014 led Kashmiris to increasingly challenge perceptions of nature or natural disasters as apolitical. Dams are an integral part of border-making processes, and gender, space, and borders are continually co-produced through militarised infrastructures. Women’s resistant imaginaries, which combine political and ecological metaphors, and rely on conceptions of jinn and other non-human agency, offer a way to rethink Kashmir beyond its securitised geographies.

Gendered Politics of Funerary Processions

On 8 July 2016, Kashmiri militant Burhan Wani was killed by the Indian army, setting in motion unprecedented funerary processional grieving. Using accounts of funerals of militants and civilians, gendered funerary processions and the transformation of gendered cultures of grieving in Kashmir have been analysed. It is argued that women’s participation in the militant and civilian funerary processions is a feminist political formulation in the Kashmiri context. This is understood through a review of the politics of funeral attendance and two specific actions that women undertake: publicising grief by bringing the private out into the contested public realm, thus outdoing religious law, and resisting the state’s sovereignty by grieving for lives that the state deems “non-grievable.”

Dimensions of Sexual Violence and Patriarchy in a Militarised State

Enforced disappearances, extrajudicial killings, torture, and sexual violence have characterised Indian military operations in Kashmir. Of these, sexual violence has been used widely to “break” individuals and communities, and as a tool for punishing resistance against violence by the Indian state. The discourse around sexual violence, however, has always revolved around women with very little focus on men and transgender persons, given the patriarchal understanding of sexual violence and power relations. A critical part of this discussion is also looking at how the patriarchal structure of the society acts as a facilitator for the effective use of sexual violence as a tool against the people. The sexual violence that is propagated and implemented by a masculine patriarchal state can be resisted well with a deeper understanding of gender dynamics.

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