Mundane Heroines: Conflict, Ethnicity, Gender, and Female Headship in Eastern Sri Lanka

Citation:

Ruwanpura, Kanchana N., and Jane Humphries. 2004. “Mundane Heroines: Conflict, Ethnicity, Gender, and Female Headship in Eastern Sri Lanka.” Feminist Economics 10 (2): 173–205.

Authors: Kanchana N. Ruwanpura, Jane Humphries

Abstract:

For the last twenty years, eastern Sri Lanka has witnessed a bitter and bloody civil conflict. This paper explores the experience of female-headed households in the region. Only partially the product of war, such households cannot be bundled together as a social problem with a single solution. Our study endorses the feminist suspicion of falsely homogenizing accounts of women's lives and suggests instead an alternative emphasis on the many ways in which gendered relations of dominance and subordination are maintained. With its co-existing Muslim, Tamil, and Sinhala groups, eastern Sri Lanka facilitates the exploration of ethnicity as a source of variation. The households included in this study share a common structure and face the same economic problems, yet ethnic differences divide them. The paper charts the problems, strategies, and partial triumphs of these lone mothers and proposes policies to help them in their mundane but heroic struggle.

Keywords: female headship, gender, ethnicity, eastern Sri Lanka, conflict, kinship and community

Topics: Armed Conflict, Civil Wars, Economies, Ethnicity, Gender, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Households, Post-Conflict Regions: Asia, South Asia Countries: Sri Lanka

Year: 2004

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