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IUAES 2013: Evolving Humanity, Emerging Worlds. 5-10 August 2013.

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Evolving humanity, emerging worlds

Manchester, UK; 5th-10th August 2013

(G01)

The gendering of public space in the globalized world (IUAES Commission on the Anthropology of Women)

Location University Place Theatre
Date and Start Time 06 Aug, 2013 at 09:00

Convenor

Joan P Mencher (Lehman Col. & CUNY Grad CTR.) email
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Short Abstract

This will focus on how both public and domestic space has been redefined as women are coming out into the public realm globally.

Long Abstract

In every part of the world there has been an increase in women's movements into spaces that have not been their domain in the past,like in politics, military service,administration, corporate business etc. Thus what had been almost exclusively male spaces are now occupied by large number of women. This panel seeks to explore from ethnographic studies across the world, how such spatial redefinition has altered the gendering of public spaces. For example the need for women to take care of children, to breast feed babies, the aesthetics of a feminine environment, the modification of language , dress and speech caused by the very presence of women. The transformation of etiquette to accomodate feminine presence, like replacing charman with chairperson.

Also relevant are the polciies and regulations that have been brought in by state, often at the behest of civil society and women to tackle such issues as were unforeseen in the past. For example the Indian legislation to deal with sexual harrasement at the work place, the issues of sexuality in militray service, to accomodate women's bodily function within the public arena and to transform legal language to include women, to propagate what is understood as gender sensitive language and so on.

Women's presence has also led to a critical assessment of male centric rational and ethical premises, the movement away from aggresson towards peace to seek sustainability rather than growth and various such transformations that may redefine humanity for the future.

Chair: Subhadra Mitra Channa
Discussant: Prof.Joan P Mencher

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

Talking about Rape: Discourse on Sexual Violence in Poland

Author: Agnieszka Koscianska (University of Warsaw)  email
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Short Abstract

This paper draws on ethnographic and archival research and discusses the role of feminists in shifting discourse on sexual violence in Poland from the 1970s to present.

Long Abstract

Poland has a progressive law regarding rape: it defines it regardless of the relationship of the rapist and the victim (thus also penalizing marital rape) and their gender (men can be victims as well). However, the law is not fully executed because of widespread stereotypes concerning rape: the victim is often perceived as being guilty of what happened. This paper draws on multiple sources (analysis of press and publications on sexuality; analysis of court cases; interviews with psychologists and sexologists serving as expert witnesses in courts; participant observation during classes for future expert witnesses and others dealing professionally with sexual violence; interviews with feminists working with victims of sexual assault) and shows that feminists have been instrumental in shifting discourse on sexual violence and court practices by bringing women's/victims' voices into the public sphere. In the 1970s and the 1980s predominantly male experts (lawyers, criminologists, sexologists) emphasized women's responsibility for rape. In the 1990s a new group of experts emerged - women (usually feminist) who were engaged in helping victims. These new experts managed to shift public discourse to focus on the victims' suffering; in the next decade feminists started to stress the issues of women's sexual autonomy and pleasure, which has also reflected on public discourse. Furthermore, the analysis of court cases shows that feminist language has been gradually appearing in legal settings and lawyers more and more often refer to feminist concepts in their work with rape victims.

Gender discrimination at work place

Author: Ranjana Ray (Calcutta University)  email
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Short Abstract

The paper is on working women and how they are discriminated at their place of work, amounting to harassment. Data is collected from working women in all sectors of work type and economy.

Long Abstract

There is a traditional view point for women as home maker. Working women appear to be new phenomena in the recent centuries, although women had always been working outside their homes in various capacities. Women had been the basic nutrition provider to her family. Among the hunting gathering communities basic sustenance was procured by collection and gathering, where women's role was quite important as is shown in various investigations. Among rural communities women had not only contributed much in the food production arena in various ways, but also been involved in a number of crafts. With mechanization of industries, globalization and change in the economic sector, employment opportunity for women has widened. Gender difference is a biological reality. Tradition has fixed attitude for gender discrimination both for men and women. The paper is based on a study among the working women of the Metropolitan city of Kolkata. The study has shown how women are discriminated at their place of work, leading to harassment. Samples are taken from women working both in organized and unorganized sectors. Data is collected from all kinds of working group starting from domestic help to women working in public and corporate sectors. The finding is quite interesting. It shows how the space for women at their working place is stressed and even violated not only by the other gender but by the same gender as well.

Re-gendering public space: the hybridization of entrepreneurial practices in Accra, Ghana

Authors: Alena Thiel (GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies)  email
Michael Stasik (Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity)  email
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Short Abstract

Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork on a market and a bus station in central Accra, Ghana, we explore how gendered notions of entitlement to public space are renegotiated under the impact of global capitalist temporality.

Long Abstract

It is impossible to understand the gendered relation between women and public space without taking into account its other, that is, male engagements with and in space. Our joint paper contrasts the public spaces of a market and a bus station in central Accra, Ghana. While the former is historically associated with female entrepreneurship, masculinity is deeply inscribed in the activities defining the latter. However, recent developments gradually undermine this gendered divide. Economic liberalization and the subsequent cutback in formal employment opportunities triggered the influx of ever more men into the predominantly female occupation of market trade. Especially, as import procedures have been drastically simplified and access to cheap global consumer goods is democratizing, the role of strong female gatekeepers in the reproduction of the gendered market system becomes increasingly obsolete. Yet, simultaneously, the public space of the bus station adjacent to the market and complementary in many of its economic activities, is increasingly shaped by intensive negotiations between male station personnel and "intruding" female entrepreneurs over the scarce resource "space". Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork, we explore how gendered notions of entitlement to public space are renegotiated under the impact of global capitalist temporality.

Indian women as native chefs. Gender, culinary tourism and resistance in Oaxaca (Southern Mexico)

Author: Renata Hryciuk (Warsaw University)  email
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Short Abstract

The paper analyzes the emergence of native women chefs in Oaxaca’s culinary industry and its role in challenging and redefining the image and position of Indigenous women in the public sphere (at the local, national and transnational level).

Long Abstract

The state of Oaxaca is famous for its regional cuisine considered to be the most sophisticated in Mexico. Thus, over the last decades it has become the site of booming culinary tourism industry owning to both state-led strategies for local development based on promoting cultural and ethnic tourism as well as numerous private enterprises.

The key element for its success are Indigenous women who provide government officials, professional chefs and cookbook authors with local knowledge of products and techniques of cooking. Although, such dissemination of native 'know how' may help to preserve the culinary heritage of Oaxaca, it generally leads to appropriation, commodification and commercialization of women's expertise for the benefit of mestizo or foreign chefs and cookbook authors. At the same time Indian women are widely perceived as skillful but passive and subordinate exotic 'others' and marginalized in the public celebrations of Oaxacan cuisine.

This paper analyzes the emergence of first Oaxacan native women chefs who have managed to parlay their local knowledge into a marketable commodity and the authenticity of being an ethnic minority into business opportunities. The owners of highly acclaimed restaurants, authors of books, special guests at international food shows and festivals Indian women have been recently moving from the sphere of female domestic and ethnic cookery to male haute cuisine crossing the boundaries of gender, ethnicity, class and space.

It demonstrates culinary tourism as a site of grassroots resistance and (re)negotiation of the image and position of Indigenous women within their local communities, and more broadly national and transnational public sphere

Changing 'Home': The Educated Bengali Women's breaking of the Stereotypes

Author: Rajasri Basu (Rabindra Bharati University)  email
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Short Abstract

With the increasing participation of educated, Bengali middle class women in the ‘public’ sphere, the domestic space of women gets refashioned. This paper will focus on the changing space of women in the domestic sphere, which by way of redefining itself leaves almost nothing of the society unchanged.

Long Abstract

In India, during the '60s and the '70s of the last century only a handful of the educated Bengali middle class women of West Bengal could be found in the workforce. At that time going out for work was considered to be the inability of the husband to 'take care' of her. The '80s and the '90s saw a gradually increasing stream of them joining different sectors, who however left the domestic field almost unaltered in their bid to become 'super women'. A change could, however, be noticed from the turn of the present century, when these women are not only getting engaged in different jobs in great numbers but are aspiring higher positions that demand more time and energy from them. This requires a refashioning of the roles of women in the domestic front-- from wearing the more 'comfortable' jeans to hiring maids for looking after the child; from dining out frequently to buying gadgets; from buying flats near parental house to learning to drive. This woman not only redefines her role and space in the family but in the process redefines the space of other members of the family and also paves the way for significantly newer spaces in the society like chains of home-delivery system, aya-centres, crèches etc. Thus the 'visibility' of women in the work place leads to the development of new spaces for them in the domestic sphere and ironically, what is 'home' for them becomes 'workplace' for others, who again are mostly women. This is how new spaces are constantly being created.

Gender influence in languge use

Authors: Vinay Jain (Makhanlal Chaturvedi, Govt. Girls College, Khandwa (MP) India)  email
Shashwat Jain (Delhi Technological University)  email
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Short Abstract

Sex has a considerable effect on the selection of pronoun. Pronouns give information about a person's attitude towards members of the opposite sex. Other core factors age and occupational status also determine a particular choice.

Long Abstract

The present paper explores two linked variables, sex of the speakers and sex of the addressee, which are more influential in determining appropriate pronouns in Hindi (Tu, Tum and Aap). Women are more restrained in their possible choices of pronouns. Pronouns give not only information about her or his political views and social class but also information about a person's attitude towards members of the opposite sex. These rules of pronominal usage reveal information about the relationship of the sexes in a society, especially the maintaining of distinctions.

The data of the present study were collected through questionnaire - interview method. The source of the data were 200 subjects (120 men and 80 women), representing different section of society. The questionnaire aimed at eliciting information regarding pronominal usage between the subject and his/her mother, father, spouse, children and friends, etc.

The response to the questions indicates that in most of the situations, sex has a considerable effect on the selection of pronoun. In certain cases sex overlaps with other core factors like age and occupational status to determine a particular choice.

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Participation of women in rural water supply and sanitation projects: Visible or invisible actors? - A case of subdistrict Maubara, Liquiçá, Timor-Leste.

Author: Therese Nguyen (National University of Timor-Leste)  email
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Short Abstract

In Timor-Leste, the equal participation of women in rural water supply and sanitation (RWSS) becomes one of the most challenges for the community organizers and the policy makers. This paper aims to explore the nature and the politics of women participation in RWSS.

Long Abstract

In Timor-Leste, the equal participation of women in RWSS became a big challenge for the community organizers and the policy makers. This paper aims to explore the nature and the politics of women participation in rural water supply and sanitation (RWSS) by choosing two communities in Maubara sub-district, employing the face-to-face semi-structural interviews. The research design was multi-sited ethnographic case studies. In addition, direct on-field observations also help to discover the attitudes and the nonverbal communication of the community members. The researcher found out that there are two different patterns of participation: one has an organized, initially guided, top-down pattern of participation, and the other one has a more spontaneous way mobilizing community members based on their emergency needs. The first pattern has imposed gender mainstreaming strategy and women are included in the GMF (water management group) and some worked in technical team but the women inclusion could be seen as token, most of women participated in the project by doing the works that are the extension of their domestic works on daily basis. In the second pattern, women totally are excluded from the planning activity; In general, the participation of women in RWSS project is instrumentally oriented. There are various factors that facilitate and enhance the participation of women like: social, economic and cultural barriers factors, community leadership, geographical location, and including other natural factors.

Pockets of resistance in the performance of ritual in the public space: the contented participation of women in festive parades of the Basque Country

Author: Margaret Bullen (University of the Basque Country, Donostia-San Sebastián)  email
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Short Abstract

This paper looks at how an ongoing conflict over women's participation in the traditionally male-dominated annual parades of two Basque towns has led to the discussion of women's place not only in the festival but in society as a whole. It presents the polemic in terms of a vindication of the symbolic centre stage of the public space.

Long Abstract

Since 1996, in the neighboring towns of Irun and Hondarribia situated in the Spanish Basque Country, there has been an unresolved polemic raging over the participation of women on equal footing with men in the parades which constitute the principal act of the annual local festivals known as Alardes. Following the privatization of a previously public festival as a measure by the local authorities to avoid upsetting the majority opposed to granting women equal terms of participation in the parades, the conflict has produced huge debate both within the local populations and beyond, in the law courts and wider political community.

It illustrates the problems posed for achieving equal rights in what in the Spanish state is a relatively recent arena in terms of challenging the gender order: ritual and festival. The cases studied have also been compared with other areas in Alicante and Andalucia where women are demanding equal rights with men in parades, processions and pageants, and bring an innovative perspective on how, in symbolically charged rituals, women's incursion into the public space is seen as a sacrilegious challenge to a traditional gender order. The analysis reveals that public festivals have constituted a stronghold of male power which had remained in place while other more urgent ground- such as the workplace - was being gained for women, and that the resistance is couched in terms of the defense of tradition and cultural specificity, interlocking with a discourse of Basque nationalism.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

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