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(En)Gendering the Maoist Insurgency in India: Between Rhetoric and Reality

Journal article
Authors Swati Parashar
J. A. Shah
Published in Postcolonial Studies
Volume 19
Issue 4
Pages 445-462
ISSN 1368-8790
Publication year 2016
Published at School of Global Studies
Pages 445-462
Language en
Keywords Maoist insurgency, CPI-Maoist, India, Postcolonial State, postcolonial feminism, movement, Cultural Studies
Subject categories Social and Economic Geography


This paper attempts a gendered analysis of the ongoing Maoist insurgency in India, particularly focused on women's position within the movement, the continuum of gender based violence that they experience and the potential for transformative politics. The contemporary Maoist movement in India has been informed by a stated commitment to 'progressive' gender politics and social transformations; in that it marks a departure from the Naxalite movement of the 60s and 70s. Yet women remain concentrated in the group's lower ranks and are absent from leadership positions. In addition, sexual and gender based violence and discrimination within the movement further undermine the commitment of the revolution to create opportunities for transformative politics including gender justice and equality. We consider it important that women's lived experiences of the conflict - as combatants, supporters as well as civilians affected by it - are brought to the foreground. Drawing from postcolonial feminist approaches, we reflect on the challenges and possibilities for feminist politics and ethics within the Indian Maoist movement. We conclude that the rhetoric and reality of gender equality within the Maoist movement provides a unique opportunity to further investigate and analyze the ways in which feminist activism and the women's movement in India have alienated the concerns of marginalized women from dalit and adivasi communities.

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