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Centrepiece: New Writing and Art from Northeast India

This book brings you a wealth of stories, in words and images, from a part of India known as the Northeast, a term that is widely contested for the ways in which it homogenizes a region of great diversity. It is also a term that has come to be a marker of identity and solidarity by many who are of the region. Here, 21 writers and artists look at the idea of ‘work’ — from street hawking to beer brewing, from mothering to dung collection — and describe their lives or those of others with humour and compassion. Parismita Singh’s wonderful compilation of the works of women asks: what are the different ways of telling a story? What if we were to attempt these tellings through poetry and portraits and essays, older traditions like textile art and applique and new genres like hashtag poetry tapped into a smartphone? Where would it take us, what would the world look like?

Contributors: Zubeni Lotha | Minam Apang | Alyen Leeachum Foning | Aheli Moitra | Soibam Haripriya | Gertrude Lamare | Rini Barman | Nitoo Das | Thingnam Anjulika Samom | Parismita Singh | Dolly Kikon | Ayangbe Mannen | Aungmakhai Chak | Jacqueline Zote | Meena Laishram | Prashansa Gurung | Shreya Debi and Bilseng R Marak | Mona Zote | Nabina Das | Mamang Dai | Sanatombi Ningombam | Kundo Yumnam Continue reading

Women, Peace and Security in Northeast India

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The states in the northeast of India have been subject to multiple protracted conflicts. In the cases where the gendered nature of these conflicts is considered, stereotypes of women as passive victims or natural peacemakers tend to be reproduced, and scholars follow the establishment’s cues in employing analyses from a conventional security studies perspective, focusing on ceasefires and surrender packages for militants, male-dominated negotiations over autonomy and statehood, and ‘homeland’ politics. Even as women have become increasingly vocal in civil society attempts to resolve conflict and build peace in the region, their voices and work are ignored. The media has turned its spotlight on activists like the Meira Paibis and Irom Sharmila, but has yet to acknowledge the significance of women’s everyday resistance, activism and agency – and this lack of attention is a further aspect of their marginalization.

This volume sheds light on the successes and failures of the women’s movements in and of the region; women’s responses and engagements with conflict and peace-building; as well as their challenges, aspirations and experiences as agents of change. It adds important insights into the debate on gender and political change in societies affected by conflict. Moreover, by engaging critically with the ‘women, peace and security’ literature, the volume takes a fresh look at ‘universalist’ feminist and interventionist biases, questioning the notion that peace processes should be treated as windows of opportunity for women’s empowerment and positing that it is crucial to understand gender relations during conflict as historically contingent, complex and multifaceted, and intertwined in the social fabric.

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Lady Driver: Stories of Women Behind the Wheel

In 2008, when the Azad Foundation, an NGO based in Delhi, began training  poor women to become drivers of commercial and private vehicles, most  people thought they were somewhat out of touch with reality. Poor, illiterate  women, many of them from violent homes, some of them single mothers,  others from families and communities which had never allowed women to  step out of the home – how could these women take the wheel, drive around  in unsafe cities, be confident and competent, earn money? At the time, there  was only one known woman auto driver in Delhi. When Azad turned to radio  cab companies to suggest they take in women drivers, there wasn’t much  interest. Today, more than 300 women drivers have received training from  Azad and are on the roads of several cities. Nine years after radio companies  turned Azad away, special services or women with women drivers are being  introduced within these same companies. In 2015, the Delhi Transport  Corporation got its first woman driver, and in 2016, the Delhi Commission  for Women recruited 25 women drivers to be part of their women’s helpline.  Clearly, things are changing.

Lady Driver maps the journeys of twelve women from poor, marginalized  communities who have transformed their lives by taking up the challenge  of becoming women drivers. Each story is unique; there’s no Cinderella effect  here. Reality does not change overnight. Instead, as the women featured  here painstakingly claim a relationship with the road, it translates into claims  for identity, for dignity, for a livelihood. Their stories are about beginnings,  but have no endings – there is still quite a way to drive. OR – there are many  kilometres to drive yet. Continue reading

Feminist Subversion and Complicity: Governmentalities and Gender Knowledge in South Asia

_Feminist Subversion and Complicity_ interrogates a specific form of feminist practice, that which has involved engaging with state and international institutions to insert gender knowledge in their development interventions. Bringing together contributions from eight feminists located in very different kinds of institutions and spaces from Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and India, this book is the outcome of a deeply reflexive process to produce a critique from within of this present day feminist practice. An array of experiences and encounters are scrutinised from bringing feminist perspectives to governmental projects on education, health, and legal reform to transformations in the discourses and practices of women’s movements and feminisms as they encountered developmentalisms. The writers show that feminist politics is not merely assimilated in governmental projects but that it interrupts these projects even as it is assimilated; a feminist politics in which complicity is often a subversive activity, is destabilizing and contesting of meaning. Continue reading

Fault Lines of History: The India Papers II

The Sexual Violence and Impunity in South Asia research project (coordinated by Zubaan and supported by the International Development Research Centre) brings together, for the first time in the region, a vast body of knowledge on this important – yet silenced – subject. Six country volumes (one each on Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and two on India) comprising over fifty research papers and two book-length studies detail the histories of sexual violence and look at the systemic, institutional, societal, individual and community structures that work together to perpetuate impunity for perpetrators.

This volume, the second on India, addresses the question of state impunity, suggesting that on the issue of the violation of human and civil rights, and particularly in relation to the question of sexual violence, the state has been an active and collusive partner in creating states of exception, where its own laws can be suspended and the rights of its citizens violated. Drawing on patterns of sexual violence in Kashmir, the Northeast of India, Chhattisgarh, Haryana and Rajasthan, the essays together focus on the long histories of militarization and regions of conflict, as well as the ‘normalized’ histories of caste violence which are rendered invisible because it is convenient to pretend they do not exist. Even as the writers note how heavily the odds are stacked against the victims and survivors of sexual violence, they turn their attention to recent histories of popular protest that have enabled speech. They stress that while this is both crucial and important, it is also necessary to note the absence of sufficient attention to the range of locations where sexual violence is endemic and often ignored. Resistance, speech, the breaking of silence, the surfacing of memory: these, as the writers powerfully argue, are the new weapons in the fight to destroy impunity and hold accountable the perpetrators of sexual violence. Continue reading

Partition: The Long Shadow

The dark legacies of Partition have cast a long shadow on the lives of the people of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. The borders that were drawn in 1947, and redrawn in 1971, divided not only nations and histories but also families and friends.
The essays in this volume explore new ground in Partition research, looking into areas such as art, literature, mirgation, and notions of ‘foreignness’ and ‘belonging’. It brings focus to hitherto unaddressed areas of Partition, just as the northeast and Ladakh.

Contributors include: Sanjb Baruah | Sarah Ghani | Vishwajyoti Ghosh | Sanjeev Jain | Sukeshi Kamra | Rita Kothari | Kavita Panjabi | Prajna Paramita Parasher | Tarun K. Saint | Alok Sarin | Amiya Sen | Jhuma Sen | Jyotirmaya Sharma | Siddiq Wahid | Andrew Whitehead Continue reading

Flying High: Amazing Women and their Success Stories

What does it take to become an airline pilot? A camerawoman? A surgeon? A choreographer? A vet? A wildlife expert? A senior banking executive? An actress? A TV reporter? 

Women are entering and leading so many different fields these days, the career options for youngsters have never been wider, or more confusing! Together in this book for the first time, each of these extraordinary women has made a mark in her chosen profession. They give first-hand accounts of how they got their first lucky break, how they made their way in their chosen profession, what challenges and opportunities they faced.

Including Nandita Das • Barkha Dutt • Sanjna Kapoor • Naina Lal Kidwai
• Blossom Kochhar • Kalpana Sharma and many more.

“Simple, straightforward but thoroughly inspiring. A most commendable effort” -- Dawn

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Women's Eye, Woman's Hand: Making Art and Architecture in Modern India

With independence, India experienced a dramatic social rupture but also a recuperation of political autonomy and a new sense of optimism that promised opportunities. The country became a crucible for experimentation in modern and utopian architecture with new buildings, cities and museums giving public face to the nation. Indian architects and architectural projects claimed international attention, and a generation of women entered professions such as architecture and design that had previously been closed to them. They emerged as a pronounced political force, and important patrons of art, architecture and public space.

The mid-19th and 20th centuries saw a significant increase in women acting as arbiters of taste and shapers of the built environment. The emerging groups of female designers and female patrons were enabled by new norms for women.

The essays in this volume address these developments, posing the important question : did, and do, women produce art and architecture that reflect a feminine perspective ? How did women, otherwise invisible and denied attention in the public sphere, gain voice? The writers look at these questions through both the political frame of gender as well as through family lineage and dynastic connections, and their importance in women's patronage of the arts. Continue reading

The Violence of Development: The Politics of Identity, Gender and Social Inequalities in india

“ … the strength of the volume lies in its ability to mesh its diverse theoretical concerns with rich empirical data from all across India …” -- Seminar

This timely volume brings together the work of some of India’s leading feminist economists, historians, political scientists, journalists and anthropologists to investigate the contemporary situation of women in India. It focuses on four broad domains: the cultural, the social, the political and the economic. The writers argue that despite apparently positive indicators of progress in education and paid employment, women’s status has not improved.

Karin Kapadia has taught at the London School of Econmoics, the School of Oriental and African Studies, and at the Unviersities of Sussex and Durham. Her publications include Siva and Her Sisters: Gender, Caste and Class in Rural South India, The Worlds of Indian Industrial Labour (co-edited) and Rural Labour Relations in India (co-edited). From January 1999 to November 2001 she worked at the World Bank, Washington D.C., as the South Asia Region Coordinator for Gender and Development. Continue reading

Inclusive Citizenship: Meanings and Expressions

Inclusive Citizenship seeks to go beyond the intellectual debates of recent years on democratization and participation to explore a related set of issues around changing conceptions of citizenship. People’s understandings of what it means to be a citizen go to the heart of the various meanings of identity, including national identity, political and electoral participation, and rights. The researchers in this volume come from a wide variety of societies, including the industrial countries in the North, and they seek to explore these difficult questions from different angles. Themes include: Citizenship and Rights, Citizenship and Identity, Citizenship and Political Struggle and the policy implications of substantive notions of citizenship.

Naila Kabeer is Professorial Fellow at the Institute of Development Studies, Sussex, and a member of the Poverty and Social Policy Research Team. Her research interests include gender, population and poverty issues. Her recent books include The Power to Choose: Bangladeshi Women and Labour Market Decisions in London and Dhaka and Reversed Realities. Continue reading

Gender and the Built Environment in India

At various levels, from the city to the institutions and from the neighbourhood to the dwelling, the ideal and the real about the social relationship between men and women is expressed in the built form. Cultural rules govern the use of space and codes regulate behaviour between genders.

This book examines the role of women as consumers and creators of the built space and focuses particularly on India and parts of South Asia. The essays included here explore the gender perspective from various angles. They cover a wide range of issues such as domesticity and home, women labourers and construction work, the practice of architecture, education in general and in schools of architecture, women and leisure as well as women's relationship to the public sphere and housing in the vernacular mode. Continue reading

Speaking Peace: Women's Voices from Kashmir

“This book is a must-read—for it gives a human face to a complex political problem. It should be read on both sides of the border. … Through the testimonies of ordinary and extraordinary women, it brings forth the complexities of a situation where the question of what is right and what is wrong is not as simple as leaders on both sides would have us believe.” -- The Hindu

“...leave no page unturned, no essay or sentence unread. Each word wounds, each story hurts, each incident of molestation and rape angers. And after you put it down, ask yourself this question: how can we even begin to imagine after what has been inflicted on them that 'they' would want to be part of 'us' ?” -- Outlookindia.com

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