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

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Intersections of Gender and Caste

This edition focuses on the relations between caste and gender and explores the intersectionalities involved. It includes articles exploring the politics of feminism and dalit activism located in urban spaces, in working class sites, through labour, "traditional" rituals, issues of honour and inter-caste marriage.

Revitalising Dalit Feminism

This paper revisits the project of dalit feminism through the social spaces that structure the assertions of dalit women from the Mang and Mahar castes in Maharashtra. It attempts to expand the theoretical possibilities of dalit feminism through engaging with the conceptual categories of Karl Marx, Walter Mignolo and Oyeronke Oyewumi and repositions the contextual specificity of the social reproduction of dalit women's social location-based knowledge. Thus, it critically examines the leftist critiques that reduce dalit feminism to an extension of identity politics. It also questions the non-committal inclusive avatars of feminism that welcome the category of dalit feminism, as any other feminist claims without recognising the epistemic turn offered by dalit feminism.

Caste and Gender in a Mumbai Resettlement Site

This paper foregrounds specific experiences of urban dalit women affected by displacement, thereby underpinning the significance of caste, religion, identity and gender. Based on socio-anthropological research methods and extensive fieldwork carried out at a resettlement site in Mumbai it argues that "social factors" continue to play a significant role in cities. They play a pivotal role in experiences and negotiations of the traumatic processes of displacement and resettlement, often involving uprooting, erasure of memory, loss of livelihoods and kinship, and coming to terms with a compromised and limited social life. While this may be true of all affected populations equally, nevertheless, it is significant to recover nuanced voices of these experiences from the caste and gender perspective to understand the emerging complex spaces on the city's periphery and new forms of urban exclusion. A large number of women who are not networked to non-governmental organisations and/or civic authorities end up becoming the most marginalised and excluded category, deprived of rights and citizenry.

Dalit Women as Political Agents

Articulating dalit women's experiences by exposing the operations of history by which their struggles were co-opted, subsumed, misrepresented or sometimes erased by mainstream debates and tracing the survival strategies by which these women have held out against political suppression and social isolation become ucial in contemporary dalit feminist struggles in Kerala. This paper addresses a complex and vexed question that has been evolving and changing, especially in recent decades, namely, how to approach and understand the specificities of dlit women activists' experiences in the context of Kerala's politics and social ovements. This enquiry attempts to understand the apprehensions and conflicts within public life for dalit women in Kerala and to show how the "public" itself differs according to one's location.

The Mathammas

There has been hardly any scholarly engagement with patriarchal practices that link caste, gender and land relations in the case of dalits. The ways in which consideration of caste status or honour partake in patriarchy in the context of dispossessed and socially excluded communities may not be similar to the invocation of brahmanical patriarchal values. This paper attempts to capture the complexities involved in conceptualising the caste patriarchy among the dalits through their narratives and that of the upper castes, women social activists and the state on a ritual practice prevalent among the Arunthathiyars, a dalit sub-caste in rural Tamil Nadu - the dedication of Arunthathiyar girls and women to the goddess Mathamma.

The Concept of Honour

Having established the fact that "honour" is not gender-neutral, this contentious concept has been examined by feminist scholars in the light of unequal power relations, control over women's sexuality and lack of access to property and resources. This paper examines the manifestation of patriarchal and caste honour beyond the moment of choosing one's romantic or sexual partner. The daily codes of conduct as they operate in a rural setting are explored here through a gender-caste matrix. It argues that subordinated women can collectively challenge strictures of brahminical patriarchy, especially when our interventions address the intersectionality of caste and gender.

Cultural Gandhism

This article argues that Gandhian cultural nationalism is not just an ideology but an ideological consensus, and that it turns even opposing ideological positions like Marxism into variations of its own practices and certainties. It is the caste question that provides the ground for developing this ideological consensus, and it arises from the depoliticisation of untouchability in such a way that a dalit political subject becomes impossible to imagine. Telugu social reformers attempted to translate this logic into the cultural realm, especially through films. The paper critically analyses Gudavalli Ramabrahmam's popular Telugu social film, Malapilla, made in 1938. This film portrays untouchables in a negative light, and issues of inter-caste marriage and love constitute an important undercurrent of the narrative. Malapilla is the inaugural moment of popular cinema's investment in Gandhian nationalist politics and history.

Ruptures and Reproduction in Caste/Gender/Labour

This paper views labour, specifically gendered labour, through the lens of caste; and that which lies concealed within the relations of labour, despite its linkages with other social hierarchies, specifically caste relations. It throws light on the contributions of those who take on the burden of social reproduction, and whose labours continue to be devalued. It also addresses the relationship, if any, between stigma/the stigmatised body and the devaluation of labour. Finally, it locates a quest related to notions of autonomy and emancipation, which perhaps has led the mainstream women's movements to distance themselves from the burden that caste places on the lives and labours of women.

Urban Multiplicities

A recent two-day international workshop on the "Governance of Megacity Regions in India" in Mumbai revealed the multiple conceptions and contestations that drive metropolitan growth in India and around the world. Though cities globally face similar competitive pressures in an era of footloose capital flows, there were few readymade models of metropolitan governance on offer. Instead the international experience suggests that democratic processes matter as much as getting institutions right. Although questions of sustainability and resilience remained an intriguing but underexplored theme in the workshop, the increasing urgency of environmental governance agendas for India's megacity regions emerged as a key area for future research and policy.

(Un)Settling the City

The experience of displacement - of single and multiple evictions and resultant resettlement or homelessness - has defined the process of inhabitation for a vast majority of the poor in Delhi. Analyses suggest that at least 218 evictions have occurred between 1990 and 2007 in the capital, covering at least 60,000 households. Using analytical and geospatial data on the evictions that took place in this period, this paper seeks to answer some key questions and argues in support of policies that favour in situ upgrading over resettlement. The political challenges to this are discussed, particularly in the light of findings that evictions occur with similar intensity regardless of which political party is in power.

Revitalising Economies of Disassembly

In the last decade, reforms introduced by the Indo-German-Swiss e-Waste Initiative were meant to modernise and revitalise Bangalore's informal e-waste recycling sector. While the reforms rapidly transformed the circuits of e-waste recycling in the city, the outcomes have been less than ideal for informal recyclers. This article charts the changing role of informal e-waste recyclers in the wake of the introduction of reforms and shows how reforms disconnected a majority of informal recyclers - who have historically underwritten the costs of disposing the city's e-waste - from newly modernised circuits of e-waste recycling. In sum, it reveals that the reforms provided an impetus to "corporate privatisation" and undermined the extant network of "informal privatisation" of e-waste in Bangalore.

Biometric Marginality

Debates on India's Unique Identification Number project have so far been based on the analysis of economic data, emerging legal frameworks, policy procedure, and technology. This paper shifts the focus to examine the implementation of the UID project in sites of urban marginality. A study of homeless citizens demonstrates that the usages of UID have not shifted the goalposts but are developing along the lines of established citizen-state relationships in both the empowering and excluding dimensions of the UID. To capture the social impact of UID, debates must move beyond the notion that the transformative potential rests in technology or abstract policy and study the ways it is made available to people in their everyday life.


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