Questioning Women’s Solidarity: The Case of Land Rights, Santal Parganas, Jharkhand, India

Citation:

Rao, Nitya. 2005. “Questioning Women’s Solidarity: The Case of Land Rights, Santal Parganas, Jharkhand, India.” Journal of Development Studies 43 (3): 353- 375.

Author: Nitya Rao

Abstract:

Women's land rights have been on the policy agenda in India for at least the last 20 years. Yet not much has happened on the ground. Why have not women mobilised to claim rights to land? What have been the limits to collective action by women around land rights? Through fieldwork in the Santal Parganas, Jharkhand, India, this article explores these questions. Firstly, the socially embedded nature of land as a resource and the mutuality and interdependence between men and women in the productive use of land needs to be recognised. Consequently, more than gender identities, it is other cross-cutting identities of ethnicity, education, kinship relations and marital status that both motivate women to stake their claims to land as well as oppose the claims of other women and men. Secondly, women's land claims seem to have a chance of becoming effective only if they have some male support, hence rather than aligning with other women, those who are serious in their claims seek to build alliances with men, particularly those able to influence the argument in their favour. Just as amongst women, there is considerable evidence to show that men too adopt different subject-positions depending on their own experience and context. Finally, by attempting to present women's land claims as a gender issue, not only is it found that women are unwilling to mobilise around this issue, but there is also an enhanced resistance from men.

Keywords: women's land rights, collective action, men, gender, mobilization

Topics: Education, Ethnicity, Gender, Gendered Power Relations, Patriarchy, Rights, Land Rights, Women's Rights Regions: Asia, South Asia Countries: India

Year: 2005

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