Bodies In/out of Place: Hegemonic Masculinity and Kamins’ Motherhood in Indian Coal Mines


Lahiri-Dutt, Kuntala. 2013. “Bodies In/out of Place: Hegemonic Masculinity and Kamins’ Motherhood in Indian Coal Mines.” South Asian History and Culture 4 (2): 213–29. doi:10.1080/19472498.2013.768846.

Author: Kuntala Lahiri-Dutt


In public discourse and representation, mine pits are naturalized as masculine domains – as the most obvious place of work for men by virtue of their physiological or biological traits. In this article I explore how such hegemonic masculinity is constructed, propagated and accepted as natural. Towards this aim, I bring together within a large frame the debates around the past and present conditions of women in the coal mines in eastern India, debates that allow us to further excavate the sources and spaces of masculinist discourses in the mining industry as a whole. More specifically, I analyse the debate that took place in the 1920s centering on women’s reproductive functions in the collieries. Within this context, women’s bodies are the source of biological essentialism, which justifies their exclusion and promulgates mining masculinity.

Keywords: coal mines, kamins, masculinity, women miners, colonial mines, women workers

Topics: Economies, Extractive Industries, Gender, Women, Masculinity/ies, Gendered Power Relations, Masculinism, Livelihoods, Sexuality Regions: Asia, South Asia Countries: India

Year: 2013

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