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Title: 'Rewriting widowhood' : intersectionality, well-being and agency amongst widowed women in Nepal
Author: Solley, Suzanne
ISNI:       0000 0004 5989 5267
Awarding Body: Queen Mary, University of London
Current Institution: Queen Mary, University of London
Date of Award: 2016
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In an expansive feminist literature on gender and development, scholarly research on widows and widowhood remains limited, particularly within the context of Nepal. While there are some important exceptions, existing work reinforces stereotypes of widows as old and poor victims, and widowhood as essentially a marginalised and vulnerable status. This thesis seeks to confront such homogenous views and to 'rewrite' widowhood. In particular, it explores the diverse experiences of widowhood through the adoption of an intersectional life-course lens, conceptualises well-being from the embedded perspective of widows and examines the complex ways in which widowed women assert agency. This thesis is born out of a longstanding academic engagement with Nepali widows. Based upon ethnographic qualitative research, the study involved two periods of intensive research in the Kathmandu Valley in Nepal. The research was operationalised through a triangulation of qualitative methods resulting in a rich evidence base of eighty-one semi-structured interviews, eighteen oral histories, five focus groups and ten key informant interviews. This research shows that that widowhood is more complex than much of the scholarship to date suggests. Key findings include the particular salience of age, caste and the life course in shaping experiences of widowhood. It demonstrates that while widows' understandings of well-being can be categorised as material, perceptual and relational, relationships with children, family and the wider community in which they live underpin all of these. This research also uncovered widows' complicated and contradictory enactments of agency that can be placed on a 'resisting-conforming' continuum, and are shaped by gendered cultural norms, eschatological beliefs, temporality and intersectional identities. This thesis contributes to more nuanced empirical and theoretical understandings of widows and widowhood, intersectionality well-being and agency.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Nepal ; Widowhood ; Widowhood ; Female Headed Households ; Intersectionality ; Life course ; Well-Being ; Agency ; Nepal ; Hinduism