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Accepted Paper:

Ethnographic reflections through a WhatsApp group: Women’s initiatives during the Covid-19 pandemic, the case of a gated community of Gurgaon, India  
Indrani Mukherjee (Indian Anthropological Association)

Paper short abstract:

Reflecting on the use of a women’s WhatsApp group as an ethnographic space, the research explores the continuity between the physical space and the virtual space of a gated community of Gurgaon, India, with special reference to women’s initiative during Covid-19.

Paper long abstract:

Gated community is a term that refers to a physical area that is fenced or walled off from its surroundings [Landman, 2000], they are closed urban residential areas where public space is legally privatized and access becomes restricted with different level of security, special life style, and residents with the same socio-economic class. The Covid-19 pandemic brought a scenario where the very wall that was raised for protection and security became the walls for confinement, restricting flow of individuals and resources not only from the outside to the inside of the community, but also within it and outwards. The present paper reflects on the initiatives of women in this state of adversity.

In the beginning of 2020 when the first wave of covid-19 hit and subsequently during lockdown, which restricted physical interaction even between neighbours, a woman’s WhatsApp group became a crucial support system in light of the crisis. The present paper uses research experience from within this WhatsApp group, as an ethnographic space, to understand its continuity with the physical space through the various waves of the pandemic. It looks at how the virtual space emulates the physical space in terms of interactions, with the additional benefit of being a rich source of information with time-stamped archival data, well documented processual events, rich in narratives and real-time experiences. The present paper looks specifically at initiatives around the covid-19 crisis and brings forth the realities of solidarity and nurturing, within the community and beyond.

Panel P124a
(Un)Gendered experiences in the virtual space
  Session 1 Wednesday 27 July, 2022, -