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Accepted Paper:

The role of care in protest sites: the case of Shaheen Bagh's first-time women protestors  
Deepta Chopra (Institute of Development Studies)

Paper short abstract:

Examining motivations and actions of first-time women protestors against India's discriminatory Citizenship Act shows how women brought their caring roles into the public space of their protest. Thus, women's responses to state repression disrupted boundaries between public and the private spaces.

Paper long abstract:

This paper examines the motivations of first-time women protestors participating in the Shaheen Bagh resistance against India’s discriminatory Citizenship Amendment Act. It highlights women’s experiences of protesting for their and their children’s citizenship rights, and the impact that women’s presence in this struggle has made to it. The paper reflects on how women brought their caring roles, hitherto carried out in the personal space of their ‘ghar’ (home), into the public space of protests, or the ‘bahir’ (outside the home) — thereby impacting the very form and nature of the struggle.

The case of Shaheen Bagh shows that state repression of citizenship was not accepted passively. Instead, violence by state personnel in public spaces (within a university setting in this instance) galvanised women protestors to stage a 100 day sit-in protest to raise their collective voice against this violence and repression. During this protest, the women protestors initiated and used a myriad of established and innovative strategies against this repression, most notably through bringing care into the public sphere. In this way, the paper shows that women protestors erased and deconstructing the binaries between the ‘ghar’ (private space) and the ‘bahir’ (public space). An examination of these strategies further reveals how public space of protest can, and must, co-exist within and in conjunction with the private realm of women’s everyday lives - especially for their sustained participation in feminist movements.

Panel P59
Violent states, survival work and caring citizens
  Session 1 Friday 30 June, 2023, -