The Dominant Post-constitutional Indian Feminist Discourse: A Critique of its Intersectional Reading of Caste and Gender

Main Article Content

Santvana Kumar
Ekata Bakshi

Abstract

The dominant post-constitutional Indian feminist discourse is a product of diverse movements born from different histories. These diverse feminist movements continue to inadequately provide a comprehensive and inclusive theorisation of the relationship between caste and gender. Dalit feminist movements have successfully made ‘Dalit women’ a critical part of the dominant feminist discourse and have confronted it for including a caste framework as imperative to understanding the women’s question. But the question of caste within the dominant feminist discourse has largely remained confined to reading and understanding the Dalit woman through the intersectional framework. Intersectionality is useful in providing a framework for categorising the Dalit woman and for highlighting the lacunae in understanding the intersections of caste and gender in existing discourses. Yet, when framed through the overarching lens of difference, it occludes the contingent co-construction of the Savarna woman and Dalit woman as categories, as well as the complicated relationality between these two categories. Treating intersectionality as difference, also ironically posits the Dalit women as a homogenous and essentialised category. This category is over-determined by vulnerability, exploitation, and, violence. Thus, the entire spectrum of experiences inhabited collectively by women placed under this category is erased. This article attempts to elucidate these arguments by focusing on West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh. As two researchers from different locations, both disciplinary and socio-political, one a Savarna-feminist-ethnographer, the other a Dalit-feminist-legal-researcher, we then seek to understand what adopting a holistic anti-caste methodology rather than simply ‘doing intersectionality’, means while inhabiting both these locations.

Article Details

How to Cite
Kumar, S., & Bakshi, E. (2022). The Dominant Post-constitutional Indian Feminist Discourse: A Critique of its Intersectional Reading of Caste and Gender. CASTE / A Global Journal on Social Exclusion, 3(1), 49-68. https://doi.org/10.26812/caste.v3i1.364
Section
Research Articles
Author Biographies

Santvana Kumar, Jawarharlal Nehru University

PhD Candidate, Centre for Women’s Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India

Ekata Bakshi, Jawaharlal Nehru University

PhD Candidate, Centre for Women’s Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India