Sirpa's ethnographically rich study of local politics and gender in rural India is based on her extensive fieldwork. Janta is 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.
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.
Tenhunen argues that the gendered understanding of politics not only limits women’s political participation, but also enables and shapes women’s political action and critical discourses because 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 not applied in local disputes because of their universality or the supremacy of the Western model of modernization, but because these, through their local interpretations, offer concepts through which the taken-for-granted practices can be discussed and questioned, which in turn become means of awakening: of turning women’s personal experiences into questions of social change."
In our Gender and Anthropology sections, in paperback, 196 pages. Rs 345. ISBN: 978818604978