Culturalizing Transformation: Reimagining Futures


This paper introduces an ‘action research’ work that began in 2013 with the identification of the experience of singleness among adivasi (indigenous) women farmers in rural India. The continuous articulation and analysis of singleness has connected women in a kind of collective form, named Eka Nari Sanghathan (Single Women’s Collective). The Sanghathan has emerged as a ‘space’ to host friendship and togetherness for women who have been either abandoned by their families or are treated as liabilities. However, it functions also as a transformative space that (re)thinks questions related to development, agency, well-being. This work situated deep in developmental contexts challenges discourses and practices that represent adivasi women as third world victims and treat adivasi cultures as backward and lacking in knowledge, logic, and capacity to transform. Women are collectivized to promote economic and foreign agendas but the ‘reality' of their lived psycho-social and cultural experiences is largely kept outside of developmental interventions. What gets obscured in the excessive focusing upon “developmental issues” is a question, this paper asks. How does the condition of singleness that has remained invisible in the developmental work revisit ideas and practices that claim to transform lives. What role does the adivasi context and collaborative gender work embedded in cultural systems, such as that of the Sanghathan play in rethinking collective/common futures? This paper wonders whether adivasi women’s lived experiences and practices that are in the developmental discourse perceived as backward and lacking offer us a new way to reimagine futures? Can adivasi spaces be seen as possible sites for transforming futures rather than a past to be destroyed?

Author Information
Bhavya Chitranshi, Centre for Development Practice, Ambedkar University Delhi, India

Paper Information
Conference: Global2018
Stream: Gender studies / Feminist Theory

This paper is part of the Global2018 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon