The Department of Sociology at the University of Hyderabad (UoH) began the new academic year with a talk on July 1, 2015 by Dr. S. Anandhi, Associate Professor, Madras Institute of Development Studies, Chennai on “Caste and Development :Toward an Ethnography of Dalit Women’s Activism in Tamilnadu.” It was based on a detailed ethnographic account of land struggle and dalit women’s activism in a village in northern Tamilnadu exploring the significance of caste habitus and gendered performativity in development politics of contemporary India.
Earlier, studies have focused on civil society activism but the speaker argued that there is very little exploration of how the contemporary development politics offers agentive possibilities for the most discriminated dalit women, and produces a new caste habitus which structures women’s collectivisation or activism. She posited that the modern process of development is inextricably linked to issues of caste and gender though the official discourses on development. The durability of poverty and inequality and its impact mainly on dalit women bear out the significance of these two structural and ideological forces in the development politics. This is also borne out by the fact that in the civil society both these categories have been central to the assertion of rights to development resources as much as in contesting discriminations.
Dr. Anandhi has done Ph.D in History from Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi and her area of research is Women’s Studies with the special focus on Gender, Caste and Identity Politics.