11/06/2012 | Faculty of Law, Economics & Governance
Dalit Women’s Collective Action to Secure Livelihood Entitlements in Rural South India
On 20 June 2012, Jayshree Mangubhai will defend her thesis titled ‘Human Rights as Practice: Dalit Women’s Collective Action to Secure Livelihood Entitlements in Rural South India’ (Mensenrechten als dagelijkse praktijk: Collectieve actie van Dalit vrouwen voor basisrechten in ruraal Zuid India).
This research is based on ethnographic fieldwork in three villages across the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu, where Dalit women engage in struggles to secure or protect livelihood entitlements such as housing land or work in an adverse environment of social exclusion. It focuses on the context of and power dynamics behind systemic non-implementation of Dalit women’s rights. Collective action by these women is naturally based on their perceptions regarding their just entitlements. Through exercising their agency to overcome unequal power relations and secure entitlements and freedoms, actors thus generate discourses constitutive of human rights. Bottom-up approaches to human rights, therefore, complement top-down approaches by emphasising people’s agency and the creation of socio-political environments that enable people to effectively realise both socio-economic and civil-political rights. Thus, this dissertation understands and enlightens human rights as practice. Particularly intriguing is the exposed power dynamics of collective action by Dalit women and the counter forces mobilised in reaction.