Webinar - Intersectional Histories? Reflections on the History of Work from an Urban Slum in Kerala


 Intersectional Histories? Reflections on the History of Work from an Urban Slum in Kerala


Prof. J. Devika

Centre for Development Studies, Thiruvananathapuram


Date: 05th May, 2021, Wednesday at 3.00 p.m.


Recorded Video 




In this talk, the speaker probes the intersection of spatial, caste, and gender axes of power in shaping contemporary inequalities in Kerala, through mixed-method research in an urban slum. Relying largely on qualitative data, it constructs a history of work in the slum for lower caste men and women against the backdrop of Kerala politics from the 1940s until the present. It examines the role of widening gender gaps, the persistence of secularized caste, and flagging working-class politics and discourse in shaping contemporary socio-economic exclusion in urban areas.  She argues that the new egalitarian politics that contemporary challenges call for demand a far closer understanding of the forms of secularized caste and naturalized gender as axes that shape inequalities in the world of work, and not just in the spheres of family, community, and class. 

About the speaker

Professor J. Devika teaches at the Centre for Development Studies, Thiruvananthapuram.  She has made significant interventions as a feminist historian, social science researcher and translator. Her areas of specialisation include History of, and present developments in, Gender, Politics, Development, and Culture in Kerala; the history of Migration and Cosmopolitanism in Kerala; Local self government in Kerala; translations and translation studies; Malayalam literature; and Contemporary politics. She has published extensively in these areas. Some of her noted works are Womanwriting =Manreading? Masculinist Literary Criticism and Women Writing in Twentieth Century Kerala (2013), Pennorumbettaal Lokam Maarunnu: Linganeethiyude Viplavangal (2017), ‘Kulastree’yuum ‘Chanthappennu’m Undaayathengane? Adhunikamalayalistreekalute Charitrathinu Oru Aamugham (2010), and En-Gendering Individuals: The Language of Re-forming in Early 20th Century Keralam (2007). She has done several important translations between English and Malayalam. She is the founder and curator of the website Swatantryavaadini, a pioneering archive of the writing and speeches of Kerala’s first-generation feminists from early to mid-20th century, and contemporary writings on gender in early modern Kerala.