Gendered Violence and Urban Transformations in India and South Africa | Department of Sociology

Gendered Violence and Urban Transformations in India and South Africa

The two urban cases that are the focus of this project - Delhi NCR (India) and Johannesburg (South Africa) - have acquired a reputation for very high levels of sexual violence, both private and public. As cities within countries undergoing rapid transition - post-apartheid liberalisation in South Africa, and state-led development to economic liberalisation and new forms of nationalism in India - gender relations and enactments of violence in these countries have multiple, inter-related causes that vary across caste, class, race, and region. We will ask whether and how factors such as racial or class inequality, poverty, or other environmental, contextual and historical factors make a difference to actual enactments of violence - sexual and interpersonal - against women. How does urban transformation affect gender relations, women's autonomy, and the perceived clash between 'tradition' and 'modernity'? To answer these questions requires time-consuming and painstaking qualitative research, with long-term immersion in the field. Such immersion will elicit the deeper mechanisms beneath correlating factors such as class and violence and allow us to better understand whether and how poverty, racism or other structural factors enable violence in particular families, or individuals' lives, and furthermore to develop a better understanding of invisibilised middle-class gendered violence.
To understand the complex dynamics of violence requires an appreciation of how these major transformations are manifested in everyday life, and why in these daily rhythms of life, violence against women becomes so prevalent. The innovation of this project is the use qualitative methodologies requiring immersion of the researchers in the daily life of specific neighbourhoods, while at the same time looking at how local and national state agencies and policies frame the problem of gendered violence. The project seeks to compare the particular insights from the two cities, to draw broader conclusions about the effects of globalisation and urban transformation on gender relations and violence.

Funded by ESRC, UK. In collaboration with Dr. Manali Desai (Cambridge University), Dr. Nandini Gooptu (Oxford University), Professor Kamilla Naidoo (Johannesburg University) and Dr. Lyn Ossome (Makerere Institute, University of Kampala).

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