The next ETIC RGS will be held at the School of the Arts Library on Thursday 26th February from 5-6.30pm
Paromita Chakravarti (Associate Professor, Department of English, Jadavpur University) will present Living on the Edge: Mapping Homeless Women’s Mobilisation in Kolkata, India
Urban homelessness in India has grown following the 1990’s economic reforms, development induced displacements and migration to cities. Deprived of shelter, brutalized by police evictions and criminalized by the state, the urban homeless are mobilizing to claim basic human rights in a struggle characterized as one of the foremost new social movements in contemporary India. In these mobilisations women are emerging as a visible and vocal majority with gender specific demands concerning livelihood, sexual and reproductive health, child care, privacy, security and rehabilitation. Focusing on women’s voices the talk will argue for the need to gender discourses of urban poverty and homelessness and for creating a gender sensitive urban development paradigm. It will discuss how homeless women’s gendered access to urban spaces, livelihoods and services reconfigures theorizations of the civil and political society, civic economy and rights to the city and citizenship. It will further problematise the ideologies of home and domesticity and the politics of the public and private which help to construct the ‘street woman’ as available for exploitation against the good ‘house-wife’. Finally, it will examine how the homeless women’s movement may be strengthened (across class and caste lines) through dialogue with other street-based urban women’s mobilizations like that of roadside vendors, sex-workers or movements demanding women’s safety in public spaces like ‘Take back the Night’ which are gathering strength in Indian cities following the Delhi gang rape.