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

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The Woman Question

The entwined and conflicted histories of feminism and Marxism could yield new understandings of the problems besetting the women’s movement in 21st century India, particularly issues concerning sex work, and caste. Spanning the socialist feminists of early 19th century Europe, Marx’s own writings on the “woman question,” and the scholarship that emerges from the 1960s and 1970s, this paper suggests that recent post-Marxist work can offer a fruitful site for pushing the boundaries of feminist approaches to capitalist development in India today.

Intersectionality

Two responses to Nivedita Menon's "Is Feminism about 'Women'? A Critical View on Intersectionality from India" (EPW, 25 April 2015) appreciate the article's attempt to initiate a debate on "intersectionality." The fi rst piece takes issues with Menon on rejecting intersectionality and argues that feminists should critically examine whether the concept offers any insights into their dilemmas and challenges. The second piece criticises Menon for not clarifying the issues she problematises. This piece also takes on Menon for a not-so-nuanced representation of the women's movement.

Feminist Vocabularies in Time and Space

This paper situates the trajectories of feminism and women's rights in a history of thought spanning the 19th century to the present. It offers an alternate mode of engagement with the perceived problem of the dependency of the "East" on "Western" epistemologies and theories. Allowing for power-laden relationships between places and peoples, it argues that attention should focus on the modes in which concepts are made to work and provide insight, rather than on their "purity" in relation to an ascribed point of origin. This is demonstrated through the three epistemes that have broadly characterised the "women's question" in a comparative frame - the colonial, the national and the post-national. Feminism in India is thus mobilised for generating conceptual frames that are good to think with, whether within the nation or beyond.

Sharmila Rege (1964-2013)

Sociologist, feminist scholar, writer and activist Sharmila Rege was successful in bringing the structural violence of caste and its linkages with sexuality and labour into the feminist discourse. She made the Krantijyoti Savitribai Phule Women's Studies Centre of Pune University into a vibrant hub which not only gained from other disciplines but also created a bilingual system of teaching and training along with a unique syllabus that deserves to be emulated widely.

The Little Red Book of Feminism?

Seeing Like a Feminist by Nivedita Menon (New Delhi: Zubaan and Penguin India), 2013; pp xii + 252, Rs 295.

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.

State Policy and the Twelfth Plan through a Gender Lens

The rapidly changing urban scenario seems to have important implications for gendering governance in Kerala. Thus, besides the different histories mediated by caste and community, the spatial location of women leaders in local governance appears to be of central importance in shaping their agency. This article which is based on the research about women leaders in local governance in Kerala in 2005-10 explores the extent to which success in local governance allowed these women entry into politics and gave them a greater presence within the public life. Generally it is seen that successful women leaders are often the bearers of a specific form of power that has been historically associated with the deployment of sentiment and affect, and ideal femininity, and that such power is understood to be crucial to local governance as well. However, an entirely different picture emerged from this study on women leaders of urban governance. Besides gentle power, successful women attribute their success equally to knowledge - of official norms and procedures.

Institutional Citizenship, Research Cultures and the State

Suboptimal funding cannot but affect the quality of research, but will more funding, as recommended by the review committee, by itself make a qualitative difference to the quality of output? What is it in institutions that fosters original research? The answer requires conceptual and historical investigations into institutional citizenship, research cultures, and the role of the State in fostering them.

Census 2011: Governing Populations and the Girl Child

The much-awaited provisional results of Census 2011 bring the news that the child sex ratio (0-6 years) has declined further from 927 to 914 girls for every 1,000 boys, due to a widening of the circle of daughter aversion, especially across western and central India. But in all the monitoring to correct this "imbalance" what place is there for a genuine engagement with the life chances of girls in diverse contexts?

The Politics of Not Counting Caste

In the debate on whether or not to count caste in the 2011 Census, there has been too little reflection on the implicit assumptions and analogies about both the census and caste that underpin the positions that have been taken. This article attempts to identify the major models that have been tacitly at work. Questioning the view that the status quo is benign or neutral, it argues that not counting caste has defeated the desire to transcend caste, and suggests that "caste blindness" be rejected in favour of a fresh beginning.

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