School of Geography

The Politics of Hopeful Citizenship: Women, State, and Counterinsurgency in Rural India

18 June 2019

Time: 12:00 - 1:00pm
Speaker: Lipika Kamra, Assistant Prof, O.P. Jindal Global University, India (Erasmus+)
Venue: Graduate Centre (GC 205)

Join Lipika Kamra, Assistant Prof, O.P. Jindal Global University, India (Erasmus+), as she discusses her recent paper, titled: The Politics of Hopeful Citizenship: Women, State, and Counterinsurgency in Rural India

Lipka writes:

This paper examines ideas of citizenship that emerge in situations of counterinsurgency. Drawing upon ethnographic fieldwork in the erstwhile Maoist zones of eastern India, I provide an account of how people in India’s Maoist corridor relate to the state during counterinsurgency and imagine themselves as citizens. I focus, in particular, on poor women who became targets of development-centric measures of counterinsurgency. They participated in state-directed development programmes, and reordered their own lives and livelihoods in relation to the state. I ask: why do women engage with the state, despite knowing its violent face? The answer, as I discovered over the course of my fieldwork, lies in understanding women’s newly emerging conceptions of citizenship. These conceptions, I shall demonstrate, are not based on liberal ideals, the Indian constitution, or traditional notions of community. They are forged in a crucible where meanings of state-directed development, poor women’s aspirations for better lives, and post-conflict transformations in society --- all come together. In other words, citizenship is defined by women’s life projects and the role of the state in shaping those projects. Accordingly, I argue that a notion of hopeful citizenship defines the interactions between poor rural women and state actors during counterinsurgency.