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Title: Gender and spatial mobility : zanana, zoom-out and the spaces in between
Author: Ganesh, Lena
ISNI:       0000 0001 3487 605X
Awarding Body: Newcastle University
Current Institution: University of Newcastle upon Tyne
Date of Award: 2008
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This thesis is an ethnographic study addressing female mobility and unequal citizenship. The research is interdisciplinary and coordinates the fields of feminist social anthropology with Indian understandings of architecture and space. It is informed by the formations of Indian public spheres, the nature of their accessibility to the working-class woman, by urban patterns of movements and by the values scripted into the concepts of `home' and `public'. The research participants are seven videographers of VideoSEWA, a collective of the Self Employed Women's Association (SEWA) in Ahmadabad, India, a Gandhian trade-union of the poorest of self-employed Indian women. The research is positioned as a biographical exploration into seven women's experiential uses of space, seen to be influenced by not only the location and nature of the built environment encountered but also by the individual's positioning within society, including her jäti (sub-caste), class, ways of viewing the world, the particular point she is in her life-cycle, the norms within her peer-group, her educational status, and other factors. The insights, recorded through semi-structured interviews, observations, field-notes, photo-elicitations, maps, plans, participant-observations and conversations point to how women are `taught' about space, place and boundaries. They also highlight the contestations that run parallel to women's acceptance and reification of spatial enclaves. The analysis is organised in four chapters, constructed as movements into and in-between -the liminal spaces that are created within the ghar (varyingly home, house and family domain, community, neighbourhood, jät: ) and the bähar (public). Starting with a wide frame on the quasi ghar created in the bdhar through SEWA, the analysis zooms in to the private spaces of the physical ghar, to examine the effects of the widening radii of women's spatial autonomy. It then focuses yet further on the intimately private spaces where the domestic feminine ties a woman's presence to the ghar, before zooming back out once again to follow the women through the parochial areas of the neighbourhood and into the public areas of the city. Readings suggest that an unequal citizenship renders women unable to access and utilise spaces in their own right. Key research findings indicate that women's physical mobility has been enhanced through their employment in SEWA and through women-only spaces, a strategy that has been used in SEWA both ideologically and instrumentally. While income generation and its vitality has allowed earning women greater mobility mediated by greater bargaining power, women's economic and social empowerment, as governed by gender relations, do not necessarily result in women's spatio-economic control over resources or decision-making. Mobility also continues to be affected by a simple lack of time due to women's social roles and their pressures, especially for those living in joint families. In the locales of the parochial and the public in Ahmadabad, which are often sites of masculine privilege, women's limiting spatial experiences point to the containment of both voice and visibility through perceptions of their physical and cultural vulnerabilities. It is argued that women's rights of access to spaces are subject to the social contexts of the city-scape and citizen-scape in which they exist and that female spatial `immobility', normalised by the family and by socio-cultural community norms, dominates the current gender-based inequitable access to spatial resources.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Department of Sociology ; Sir Ratan Tata Trust ; AL Trust
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available