Gender, Politics and Practice in Rural India
About the Book
Sirpa Tenhunen provides an ethnographically rich study of local politics and gender in rural India. It is based on her extensive fieldwork in Janta, a village near Bishnupur in Bankura, West Bengal, a state where the Communist Party of India (Marxist), CPI(M), has been in power since 1977. She documents how women are emerging in the forefront of political struggles and the rise of the opposition movements in rural West Bengal, a true maker of the momentous social and political change in India. The book explores both women’s political participation and agency including marriage, dowry and women’s role in the panchayats, local government in the villages. Her observations and interviews with both male and female political activists give a candid picture of the strengths and weaknesses of the CPI(M). She also observes how building of mobile networks has led to the intensification of rural networks. The book relates the study of the political domain to that of cultural practice and considers how translocal discourses facilitate local dialogue. Tenhunen argues that the local concept of politics does not exclude home, kinship, and the women’s domain. She suggests that the notions of modernity and development are applied in local disputes because these through their local interpretations offer concepts permitting the taken-for-granted practices to be discussed and questioned. These in turn become means of awakening: of turning women’s personal experiences into questions of social change.
About the Author
Sirpa Tenhunen is an academy research fellow at the Academy of Finland and the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Helsinki. With Lina Fruzzetti, she co-edited Culture, Power and Agency: Gender in Indian Ethnography (Stree, 2006), making it India’s most substantive historical journal. He also edited Itihas (Hindi), Vols I-III (1992-94)