Women Rewriting Citizenship

Women research
From the Chipko Movement to the Gulabi Gang

The concept of citizenship has been variously criticized and modified by works on regional, global, transnational, European and ecological citizenship, but the nation-state-society persists as a dominant model. This research focuses on collective agencies and movements, led by women, developing strategies of resistance to state surveillance and control.

I explore case studies exemplifying how women have re-elaborated and re-written social practices constructing the ‘common’ and enabling the emergence of new forms of political subjectivity such as women`s associations rebelling against the lack of state control, the respect of juridical legislation, or fighting for environmental issues. These practices often challenge the fixity of topography to shed light on plural practices of living in-between territories, whether they are geographical locations or public and private spheres.

These case studies are:

  1. The Gulabi Gang, founded by Sampat Pal Devi in Uttar Pradesh (her autobiographical novel Warrior in a Pink Sari came out last year).
  2. The work of the political activist Mahasweta Devi, also a Bengali writer, who fights for civil rights along with adivasi communities in the Eastern Indian border region of Bengal.
  3. Ecological protests of peasant movements guided by Vandana Shiva, Medha Patkar and Arundhati Roy (from the Chipko movement to the struggle against the construction of dams in the Narmada Valley and against Coca Cola plants in Kerala).
  4. Exploring the relation between Indian ecological struggles and Chicano feminism, I interrogate the relation between molecules of associations acknowledging the non-correspondence of political, social, natural, cultural and family boundaries. These transnational connections unsettle the geographical constructions on which a ‘modern’ understanding of the world relies.

Each of these cases presents textual forms to be analyzed in their specificities. From short stories to autobiography, women’s narrations become performative reiterations of citizenship in unforeseen ways.

Women research
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Oecumene: Citizenship after Orientalism is funded by an European Research Council (ERC) Advanced Grant (Institutions, values, beliefs and behaviour ERC-AG-SH2).

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