Forests of Pleasure and Pain: Gendered practices of labor and livelihood in the forests of the Kumaon Himalayas, India

Citation:

Gururani, Shubhra. 2002. “Forests of Pleasure and Pain: Gendered Practices of Labor and Livelihood in the Forests of the Kumaon Himalayas, India.” Gender, Place & Culture 9 (3): 229–43. doi:10.1080/0966369022000003842.

Author: Shubhra Gururani

Abstract:

This article examines the dominant gender and environment discourse in India and argues that, so far, analyses of gender and environment have pursued a utilitarian and mechanistic understanding of the nature-society relationship. By focusing on gendered practices of livelihood, narrated memories, and oral accounts of embodied pain and pleasure in the forests of the Kumaon Himalayas, India, the author discusses the conceptual limitations that inform this discourse and argues for a culturally and geographically embedded understanding of nature-society relationships. It is argued that places of nature are not just biophysical entities, isolated from local, regional, and global relations of power, but are dialectically constituted by local politics of place, history, and ecology and are constitutive of social relations. In Kumaon, the identities of women are constituted through, always entwined with, everyday practices in the forest, and culturally specific notions of proper behavior, 'good mothers,' and 'dutiful wives' are mapped in the overlapping domains of village and forests. Such a view of the nature-society dynamic, it is argued, is critical for a grounded and locally meaningful understanding of how gendered relations are operationalized in nature and for insights into thinking about policy issues.

Topics: Environment, Gender, Women, Gendered Discourses, Livelihoods Regions: Asia, South Asia Countries: India

Year: 2002

© 2017 CONSORTIUM ON GENDER, SECURITY & HUMAN RIGHTSLEGAL STATEMENT All photographs used on this site, and any materials posted on it, are the property of their respective owners, and are used by permission. Photographs: The images used on the site may not be downloaded, used, or reproduced in any way without the permission of the owner of the image. Materials: Visitors to the site are welcome to peruse the materials posted for their own research or for educational purposes. These materials, whether the property of the Consortium or of another, may only be reproduced with the permission of the owner of the material. This website contains copyrighted materials. The Consortium believes that any use of copyrighted material on this site is both permissive and in accordance with the Fair Use doctrine of 17 U.S.C. § 107. If, however, you believe that your intellectual property rights have been violated, please contact the Consortium at info@genderandsecurity.org.