Securing Meaningful Life: Women’s Work and Land Rights in Rural Myanmar

Citation:

Faxon, Hilary. 2020. “Securing Meaningful Life: Women’s Work and Land Rights in Rural Myanmar.” Journal of Rural Studies 76: 76–84. 

Author: Hilary Faxon

Annotation:

Summary:
"It is in this context that I draw on data from a participatory photography project and a household survey to examine rural women's own accounts of daily life on the land, as well as evidence that they are excluded from new land reforms. I show how women's work sustains their families and communities and argue that the women's exclusion from land governance is especially problematic in an era in which their labor produces an increasing share of land's value. I build on scholarship of agrarian change to argue for a feminist approach to theorizing land rights that starts from social reproduction and asserts that the normative aim of land reform should be to secure meaningful life. Such an approach transcends a focus on statutory or customary rights or even broader notions of access, centering the ability to reproduce oneself and one's family through cultivation, care, and community engagement. I demonstrate that studying these processes benefits from epistemic flexibility and mixed methods inquiry capable of interrogating both gendered land tenure and everyday practices of land use in ethnically and agriculturally diverse communities, and suggest that realizing this project in practice will require changing the aims and assumptions of scholarly and policy debates on land reform."
 
"This article continues with a conceptual framing before introducing the study's context and methodology. I then turn to the everyday processes of making meaningful life, analyzing rural women's own photographic accounts to highlight the ways in which women's productive and care work sustains families and communities materially and socially. Next, I turn to the question of securing rights, assessing both household survey and photographic data to ask how changing systems of formal land rights are reshaping women's abilities to hold onto land. Finally, I discuss the implications of these findings for understanding land reform and smallholder persistence"(Faxon 2020, 77).

Topics: Agriculture, Gender, Gender Analysis, Women, Households, Land Tenure, Rights, Land Rights, Women's Rights Regions: Asia, Southeast Asia Countries: Myanmar

Year: 2020

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