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

Review of Women's StudiesSubscribe to Review of Women's Studies

Women and Customary Spiritual Authority

The Khonds of South India, categorised as a particularly vulnerable tribal group, uphold a unique religious institution called the pejjenis, where women are conferred the spiritual authority to perform critical religious and social ceremonies related to human and nature cycles, appeasement of the gods and spirits during calamities and conflict and conducting spiritual dialogue with the other worlds. This paper explores the spaces of egalitarianism among them and finds out what opportunities for gendered negotiations and authority for women within the sphere of the religions are nurtured within an overarching framework of patriarchy.

Sexuality in Iran

What can a study of transsexuality in Iran contribute to its broader global understanding? Some disaffiliation, if not actual animosity, is often assumed between science and religion, sometimes placed in relation to larger concepts such as “modernity” and “tradition.” But, developments in Iran over the past three decades reveal the coming together of science and religion; these have generated possibilities for living alternatively gendered and sexual lives. The implications of some of these developments are explored.

Muslim Women and the Challenge of Religion in Contemporary Mumbai

Two recent mobilisations of women in Mumbai expose the tension between Muslim patriarchies and women’s rights in contemporary Islam. The first case refers to a petition in the Bombay High Court filed by the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan that challenged the prohibition of women in the inner sanctum of the Haji Ali Dargah. In 2016, the Supreme Court ruled against the governing trust of Haji Ali Dargah and restored women’s right to enter the inner sanctum. The second mobilisation was spearheaded by Sahiyo, a group of five women who started a public conversation around the practice of khafz or female genital cutting among Dawoodi Bohras. Their efforts brought attention to the violent control of female sexual pleasure in the name of religion and tradition. This paper argues that women’s critical voices from within the community challenge conservatism and redefine gendered selfhood within the religious realm.

Feminist Science Studies

Feminist science studies (FSS) is a field of study that is interdisciplinary. It draws upon the philosophy, historiography and sociology of science. 1 It also has to necessarily draw upon the practice of science itself. While social scientists might gain insights into the practice and culture of...

Towards a Narrative of Gender in the Biological Sciences

Using the metaphor of the leaky pipeline, this article looks at the relative absence of women in scientific disciplines. It explores, somewhat tentatively, the impact of the structure of institutions and prevalent practices to ask how patriarchal and male-centric notions influence primary assumptions in scientific work and in scientific culture.

Chronicles of a Queer Relationship with Science

This article traverses a journey of a person in science and feminism, highlighting a trajectory in which her relationship with science, its praxis, and its understanding, all transformed as her engagement with feminisms also evolved. The narrative highlights the change from a narrow understanding of science and a career within it, to the emerging multiple possibilities of being a person in science—a change made possible because the feminist lens shifts focus from the question of women in science to a feminist understanding of science. The process, hence, results in a slow inhabiting of the “outsider” in a reimagined landscape of the discipline.

Learning to Belong as an Indian Physicist

In this article, I map out my trajectory as a theoretical physicist, especially highlighting my experiences as a woman in a domain which is especially male-dominated, even more so than in other areas of science research. I reflect on the larger problems women in physics find themselves up against and which range from fewer numbers of women in these areas of science, to integration of women into peer groups, widely prevalent sexist attitudes in their workspaces, lack of support facilities like childcare, and sexual harassment in the workplace. In spite of more women finding jobs in physics in recent years, the attitudinal shifts required to make a genuine difference in the culture of research have not yet fallen into place. Issues of discrimination, whether due to gender, race or caste, prevalent in science have to do with institutional structures and the culture of research. However, the “hard” sciences like physics deal with immutable, objective knowledge, which is itself not marked by these human discriminants.

Mathematics to Mathematics Education

This autobiographical account seeks to achieve two aims. One, it seeks to place in the public sphere a personal experience of abuse, trauma and loss of self-esteem that the author suffered as a doctoral student in mathematics. It details the experiences that allowed her to go beyond the disciplinary confines to engage with feminist and caste politics. Two, it describes and problematises, even if in a limited way, how mathematics and science research institutions are organised and function, the dominant notions and beliefs that operate in these spaces, and their implication for the larger academic atmosphere in the country. It throws light on the pervasive notions of merit that operate in the science institutions, contributing to the exclusion of women and those from marginalised castes.

Woman Mathematician in India

An autobiographical account of being a woman mathematician in India draws on personal experiences to look at the interactions between gender, caste, class, language, and mathematics. The aim is to look beyond the lack of numbers when we consider women in science and to examine the myriad layers that are a part of any such reflection. Maybe, coming from a particular caste background aided in becoming a mathematician, but being from the South in North India created another set of problems. Mathematics, however, was the safe haven within which much of this played out, or was it?

Gender and Science

A narrative of the struggles that a woman has to go through in order to establish herself in an area of research dominated by men and by ideas rooted in patriarchy shows how the mathematical playing field is skewed against women. Not only do they have to struggle much more than their male counterparts, but women mathematicians who have made important contributions are still not given their due. The problems that women in the natural sciences face and the possible ways in which these can be addressed in order to create a more equitable work atmosphere in science research institutions and universities is discussed.

The Production of Science

The discourse on gender and science in India remains largely oblivious of the ways in which caste and class shape the gender experience of those who do science, and operate with gender to shape the project of science itself. There are many ways in which science and the process of producing it are gendered and bear caste that are detrimental to the very project of doing “good” science in India. A collaboration between three scientists with differing caste, gender and nationality locations— one addresses the issue as a Scheduled Tribe student from one of the states in North East India, another addresses the structures of caste and gender as a Scheduled Caste student from Hyderabad, and a third addresses the same as a dominant caste genderqueer transgender professor—their experiences of science are shaped in multiple contexts in this article.

Impossible Immobility

In recent years, many activists working to prevent trafficking of women and children have recognised the thin line between protecting women against trafficking and contributing further to their immobilisation, especially in societies where regulation of women's mobility is a key element of patriarchal control. Addressing the ways in which migration and trafficking get entangled, especially in relation to women and children, it is argued that, in this story, a crucial role is played by the nature/degree of intermediation. The problem of trafficking of women is addressed with reference to the history of their work and migration, with a focus on Bengal, from the colonial period to the present day.


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