ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

A+| A| A-

Deprivation, Abjection, and Dispossession

This article critically examines the relevance of community-identities in and for the contemporary struggles of the most-disadvantaged sections through two case studies from Kerala’s working-class areas, an urban slum and a fishing hamlet, both in Thiruvananthapuram district. It draws upon local histories of these two places which trace the intertwined histories of land, politics, domestic life, and work since the early-mid-20th century. The slum emerged as individuals from different communities and faiths collected there and set up homes and families but did not automatically generate social bonds that transcended individual interests. In sharp contrast, in the fishing hamlet, contrary to the widespread belief that collective empowerment of the poor, civil and political, requires a breaking down of caste-community identities, the resistance to exploitation and dispossession was and is rooted in invocations of the “community” even as several fisher castes organised around the worker identity.

This paper is from the ongoing collaborative research project “Self-help or Social Transformation? Women in Local Governance in Kerala, India and South Africa” in which CDS, Thiruvananthapuram, NIBR, Oslo, and the University of Witwatersrand, South Africa are involved. I thank my co-researchers Guro Aandhal, Berit Aasen, Vinoj Abraham, Glyn Williams, and the anonymous reviewer for discussion and insights. Hearty thanks, also, to my co-workers in the project, Santhi R and Mary Samual, and to Sruthi Herbert too. The usual disclaimers apply.

Dear Reader,

To continue reading, become a subscriber.

Explore our attractive subscription offers.

Click here


To gain instant access to this article (download).

Pay INR 200.00

(Readers in India)

Pay $ 12.00

(Readers outside India)

Back to Top