Manisha Desai

Manisha Desai Professor of Sociology and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Professor of Sociology and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Ph.D Sociology, Washington University St. Louis (1990)
M.S.W.(Social Work), Bombay University (1982)
B.Sc. Microbiology, Bombay University (1978)

Research Interests: Transnational feminisms; gender and globalization/development; human rights; South Asia and Middle East studies.

The Gendered Cartography of Subaltern Struggles in Gujarat, India.  Based on nine months of field research, funded by a Fulbright Hays Faculty Research Abroad Fellowship, I study the protest repertoires of three subaltern struggles: the Mahuva movement of Other Backward Caste (OBC) farmers in Saurashtra, the Macchimar Adhikar Sangharsh Samiti (Collective for the Struggle for Fishers Rights, MASS) of Muslim fishers in Kutch, and the Par-Purna Adivasi Sanghathan (The Organization of indigenous people from Par and Purna rivers) in South Gujarat.  I argue that at the heart of these struggles is a challenge to the neoliberalizing state’s policies of “development by dispossession.” Their praxis is varied and a contradictory mix of legalism from below, translocal assemblages, and theoretical practices that range from songs and poems to collective dialogues and prefigurative practices.  Each struggle, however, shares a gendered cartography where subaltern women are visible and audible in the public spaces of yatras (rallies) and jan sunwais (public hearings), but marginalized, sometimes along with subaltern men, in the routine, ongoing activities such as collective dialogues and meetings.  I discuss the implications of such gendered practices for the women, the struggles, and the project of development and democracy.

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