Perspectives in Women’s Studies

Edited by Edited by Malini Bhattacharya

The essays put together in this volume are the proceedings of a seminar on 'Globalizing Women', organized by the School of Women's Studies, Jadavpur University, in early 2001. The idea behind the seminar was to assess how women are involved in and affected by the profound economic, political and cultural changes that have been going on in India for more than a decade under the name of globalization. In a country like India, where sheer numerical strength ensures a multiplicity of economic, social and cultural formations, the kind of uniformity that globalization envisages cannot be enforced easily. Globalization has to contend with older and entrenched forms of operation: it has to face resistance from forms of social and political practice and intellectual traditions that evolved out of contestations with colonial powers. As such, there is a need to understand the pressures that globalization brings to bear upon the prevailing patriarchal system and the lineaments of gender relationships at the economic, political and cultural levels. 'Globalization' offers a particular model of modernity. As, in a patriarchal system, the onus of upholding and preserving 'traditional' identities lies upon the woman, any paradigm of modernity has a special implication for women and has to reach out to them so that traditions may be reformulated - whether as a strategy for cooption or to inaugurate radical breaks in them. Proponents of modernity, also, have to negotiate with traditionalities. The process of globalization as a project for 'modernity' thus has a special significance for women, whether they are the subjects or the objects in the process.

The volume is divided into three sections. The opening section covers many of the multifarious aspects of globalization. The second section looks at the impact of economic liberalization on food security, labour conditions and agriculture, and whether this impact has a specific gender content. The third section seeks a gendered understanding of changing cultural codes in the general context of rapid advancement in satellite and computer technology and the worldwide explosion in audio-visual media.