Intimate Infrastructures: The Rubrics of Gendered Safety and Urban Violence in Kerala, India


Datta, Ayona, and Nabeela Ahmed. 2020. "Intimate Infrastructures: The Rubrics of Gendered Safety and Urban Violence in Kerala, India." Geoforum 110: 67-76.

Authors: Ayona Datta, Nabeela Ahmed


Urban infrastructures can enable and embody multiple forms of violence against women; from the spectacular and immediate, to the slow, everyday and intimate. Disconnections and absences of infrastructure - such as water and sanitation, to public transport and toilets - fracture peripheries and low-income neighbourhoods from resources, rights and mobility within the city, and in everyday life, enacting some of the largest tolls on women. This 'infrastructural violence' () is experienced in intimate ways by women in low-income neighbourhoods. While they lack access to adequate resources in urban settlements they simultaneously face all forms of physical violence during access to and use of water, toilets, public transport, energy use and walkways. Drawing from empirical fieldwork in the city of Thiruvanathapuram, Kerala, in southern India, we adopt an expanded notion of infrastructure that is mutually constitututive of gender-based relations of power and violence from the home to the city. Developing the rubrics of gendered safety and urban violence, we argue first, that lack of access to infrastructure is a form of intimate violence and second, that this violence is experienced and constituted through multiple scales, forms, sites and temporalities of infrastructural absence. In doing so, we further contribute to the extension of debates in feminist critical geography to critique binary constructions of gender based violence, by collapsing hierarchies of intimate and structural violence as the violence of infrastructure.

Topics: Feminisms, Gender, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Infrastructure, Violence Regions: Asia, South Asia Countries: India

Year: 2020

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