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

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Adapting to Climate Change–induced Migration

Vulnerable groups, especially women, bear the disproportionate burden of the impact of natural disasters induced by climate change. In the wake of the destruction wreaked by cyclone Aila in 2009, about half the men from the most affected blocks of the Indian Sundarbans, a region extremely vulnerable to climate change, migrated to other parts of the country in search of livelihood. The women were left alone to shoulder the entire burden of running the household and deal with the disastrous effects of the cyclone. The impact of male migration on the women of this region and the role of women’s self-help groups in helping them cope with the socio-economic distress caused by the cyclone are examined.

Male Migrants and Women Farmers in Gorakhpur

Research on gender and climate change mostly focuses on the negative impacts on women and children, where men are portrayed as somewhat irresponsible, migrating to the cities and leaving behind helpless women to face multiple adversities. Based on data from the peri-urban Gorakhpur city in Uttar Pradesh, a nuanced approach is argued for instead, distinguishing between adaptation strategies of the landed and landless households, investigating the compulsions and decision-making processes behind male migration, and the coping strategies of the women left behind. Male migration, coupled with the women farming and dealing with markets directly, has changed gender relations in the region. New forms of patriarchy and resistance to the same are emerging even as men face crises of masculinity.

Gendered Vulnerabilities in Diaras

People living in d iara villages within the embankments of the River Gandak in Bihar face high levels of vulnerability due to frequent flooding and droughts. Using anthropological surveys, gendered vulnerabilities in four diara villages in West Champaran are explored. Such vulnerability, in the context of a changing climate, combines social, political, and economic dimensions: the patriarchal creation of gender norms and biases; unequal access to water, sanitation, credit, and public distribution services; and limited employment opportunities. These elements influence the livelihood options of women and men differently, determining their capability in responding to risks posed by climatic and socio-economic stressors.

Wells and Well-being in South India

​ Groundwater has played a pivotal role in transforming the rural agrarian landscape, augmenting rural livelihoods and improving household well-being. What role does the growing prevalence and importance of groundwater play in intra-household relations, particularly the gendered divisions of labour and use of assets? The impacts of failed borewells on gendered vulnerabilities, identities and well-being have been explored. Research indicates that groundwater usage in semi-arid regions has increased the short-term resilience of communities in the region, but has simultaneously increased gendered risks, especially for smallholders, by promoting unsustainable livelihood trends and risky coping strategies to groundwater shortages.

Inhabiting or Interrogating Faith

Against the growing literature on Muslim piety movements, this paper analyses the practices of faith among a young generation of educated middle-class Muslim women in Mumbai in the context of a liberalising economy, which offers them greater employment opportunities and draws them out of the ghettos to work and interact with people of different social and religious backgrounds. The paper shows that these women question and reason with their faith, while the earlier generation abides by a quieter piety. The findings are grounded in Mumbai’s specific history in which the riots of 1992–93 were a defining moment for Muslims. While focusing on everyday religiosity, it also connects with a larger canvas by arguing that piety movements, though located in society, are not unattached from the ways in which states may constitute secularity or define religious freedoms.

Women and Religiosity

The everyday life of the congregations of slave castes involved the active support of women, right from the mid-19th century when Dalit communities began to accept Christianity. Prayers in the family and in congregations were occasions in which women were substantially involved, wherein hymns/songs became powerful articulations of the critique of caste slavery and prayer was used as an effective tool to resist instances of caste oppression. However, relatively blurred gender hierarchies in the pre-Christian phase among the slave castes were transformed by the conscious intervention of the missionaries in favour of the secure family structure with an assertive male head.

Inter-caste Marriage and Shakta Myths of Karnataka

The annual jatras or fairs conducted for certain female deities like Maramma and Dyamavva in Karnataka include the ritual of buffalo sacrifice. There is an accompanying myth that explains this sacrifice as symbolising the punishment meted out to a Dalit boy who had married an upper-caste girl by concealing his caste identity. Karnataka is one of the states where love marriages provoke honour killings, where the Sangh Parivar—as part of its “love jihad” campaign—attacks inter-religious couples, and beats up meat-eaters. Do these jatra practices, rooted in ancient memories, still serve the purpose of protecting the sanctity of caste?In what way have new developments changed the traditional meanings associated with the mythand the practice?

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.

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