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

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The Regularising State

This article discusses a form of informality widely prevalent in small and medium cities in Maharashtra, called gunthewari. It is an examination of the practice of regularisation of these gunthewaris, and its relationship to other domains of urban governance. It argues that regularisation is an attempt to create a constant state of exception. Regularisation enables the abdication of state responsibility for public housing and planning, while engaging in tokenistic exercises of welfare.

On the Charts, Off the Tracks

This paper on Ambur town of Tamil Nadu, an important hub for leather goods production, catering primarily to an international market, explores how the town's proximity to a metropolis can be a source of underdevelopment rather than a spur to steady and rapid urbanisation. It puts the spotlight back on a class of small industrial towns, where the dirty work of production, particularly of recycling industrial cast-offs, assembling secondary products and catering to low-end domestic markets is not moved out of urban spaces. Instead it is kept hemmed into unplanned and unserviced town spaces, while large formal manufacturing firms colonise rural hinterlands. It also highlights how disconnects among sectors, space and place can keep a town at low levels of dynamism and social welfare.

Territorial Legends

Exploring how the policy of protection of indigenous people works on the ground in Pasighat, a town in Arunachal Pradesh, this paper brings out the interlinkages between urban politics and indigeneity as an entitlement regime. Once boundaries are operationalised on the basis of territorial belonging, politics revolves around who is from a particular place and who is not. This has created opportunities for accumulation for the indigenous people through rents. The state simultaneously installs and destabilises this politics of indigeneity. The paper shows how the state and capital are implicated in the structures of enfranchisement that have historically shaped the town.

Shifting Paradigms

This article attempts to conceive of a contemporary history of gender and sexuality in Kerala. As erotic intimacies remain a slippery terrain for historical explorations, the focus is on the paradigm shifts that distinguish its recent history in this region. The impact of the three political developments of recent times - the feminist movement, the politicisation of sex workers, and the queer movement - is also looked at. Citing instances from popular debates and cultural artefacts, it charts out the complex trajectories of "regional" imaginations and conceptualisations of gender and sexualities in contemporary India.

Home-Based Work and Issues of Gender and Space

This article studies the experiences of a group of women workers involved in home-based work for a food processing unit in Kerala, where membership to Kudumbashree, the state-centric civil society organisation, is necessary for participation. The theoretical aspects of space and gender, in the context of how they are mutually formed and how gendered spaces are produced in the workers' everyday lives are analysed. A geographical explanation of the formation of such gendered spaces under home-based production is presented, following which everyday labour relations and the framing of workers' response strategies, which brought capital and labour to the negotiating table, are illustrated.

Becoming Society

In this interview, central secretariat member of the Dalit Human Rights Movement, Seleena Prakkanam talks about struggles and leadership and caste issues.

Struggling against Gendered Precarity in Kathikudam, Kerala

Drawing on the struggles of the Nitta Gelatin India Limited Action Council at Kathikudam in Kerala, this article critically expands on Guy Standing's notion of the global precariat. Using feminist work on the politics of waste, it argues that gendered precariousness is produced through human-as-waste conditions besides underscoring the importance of understanding it as a lived and felt process of precarity-in-the-making. This process not only shapes gendered experiences of precariousness wrought by environmental degradation but also informs sociopolitical struggles against precariousness and for social memory and belonging. It argues that these spaces of political struggle often also produce gendered contradictions and specific gendered divisions of labour within their political praxis.

Attukal Pongala: Youth Clubs, Neighbourhood Groups and Masculine Performance of Religiosity

This article unravels the complex narratives which might counter the popular perception of the pongala festival as an "all-women space". The all-male groupings that have sprung up in and around the Attukal Bhagavathy temple during the festival and their participation in the ritual are examined closely. An analysis of the film Vedivazhipadu, which is set against the backdrop of the festival, also incisively questions the taken-for-granted "purity" of the ritual and its nature as a hyper-feminine space.

Child Marriage in Late Travancore

An examination of the child marriage system in Travancore - a princely state in Kerala before Independence - in the 1930s and 1940s finds that advocacy of child marriage has not been limited to communities considered traditional. There were gendered, community-based, official, unofficial, and popular ideas about children in the context of marriage and out of the competing official discourses on gender and modernity in Travancore, the one related to Christianity eventually became dominant. It presents the layers of discourses related to gender and child marriage: an official one in census reports, another in mid-level legal discussions, and a third more popular view. It discusses official presentations about gender relations as found in census reports in which concepts of modernity and civilisation are crucial and also an account of debates in the Travancore Legislative Council about child marriage in the 1930s. It also reviews a large number of cases involving dialogues between citizens and civil servants.

You Are Woman

Malayalam cinema's constructs of femininity offer interesting insights into economies of gender in contemporary Kerala. Female self-fashioning in films has overwhelmingly centred around valorising a normative femininity, defined here as a femininity that privileges motherhood and the moral upbringing of the Malayalee nation through a moral submission to patriarchy. Agential roles for female protagonists are rare; the convention is to "punish" within the narrative female refusal of normative femininity. Three films, Trivandrum Lodge (2012), Gaddama (2011) and 22 Female Kottayam (2012), are read as challenging this edging out of the "woman question" through their naturalisation of female protagonists' habitation of spheres other than the private/domestic. In the process they question the normalisation of discourses of reproductiveheteronormativity and nationalist purity through women.

Punjab Water Syndrome

The current groundwater crisis in Punjab is a combination of paradoxical consequences - extreme depletion in some areas and water logging in others. This paper provides a brief description of the contours of the crisis and pinpoints possible reasons for its emergence in failures of policy as well as implementation. It also proposes a package of approaches as part of a paradigm shift for Punjab that can simultaneously tackle the twin challenges of water logging and a decline in groundwater levels and quality.


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