Voices of Privilege and Sacrifice from Women Volunteers in India

Voices of Privilege and Sacrifice from Women Volunteers in India : I Can Change

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This book is the outcome of a study conducted in the eastern city of Kolkata in India in the mid-2000s. It is an ethnographic study that looks closely at women from the upper and middle classes who work with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that help empower women from all classes of society. Unlike many studies that focus on grassroots women who are the beneficiaries of NGO and developmental projects, this book looks at those women who, as volunteers and activists, help carry out these projects to the best of their abilities. These women are often overlooked from mainstream studies on women in developing nations. But their role is invaluable and crucial in defining the agendas and strategies used to enhance feminist consciousness and developing organizational structures. This book is significant because it offers awareness and alternative views to the challenges (and motivations) faced by middle and upper-class women volunteers and activists in building a career in the non-profit sector of NGOs in Kolkata. Through the testimonies of these women, it examines alternative processes of agency and change in order to define these challenges and motivations. Also revealed by the analysis, is useful information about the oppression and subordination of these women in contemporary gender-stratified civil society in India. But more importantly, this book examines the various ways urban, educated Indian women construct a feminist praxis in terms of their everyday lived experiences as volunteers and activists. In terms of their lived experiences, the women in this study reflect on the social challenges they encounter and motivations they experience as volunteers and activists, while also discussing their understanding of feminism and views on the image of a "feminist" in the postcolonial context. The results demonstrate the power of feminist standpoint theorizing and how it raises consciousness, empowers women and stimulates resistance to patriarchal oppression and injustices. Finally, this book produces new knowledge and research on the conception of feminism among women volunteers and activists in a non-western setting and how they construct the image of a feminist. It offers directions for research in transnational feminism, International Women's Movement, Womanism, and Social Inequality Studies.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 200 pages
  • 152.4 x 231.14 x 20.32mm | 430.91g
  • Lexington Books
  • Lanham, MD, United States
  • English
  • 0739138510
  • 9780739138519

Review quote

Dr. Mitra offers a valuable contribution to the existing scholarly literature in a number of areas in sociology, most notably feminist sociology, the sociology of globalization, and organizational sociology. This study exemplifies the intersectional approach that is much discussed in the Western academy, as it applies to a context where it is perhaps less extensively employed: the lives of middle and upper-class women working for social change in contemporary Kolkata, India. -- Paul Draus, The University of Michigan-Dearborn As Aditi remarks in her preface, the under privileged classes in India have been given considerable attention in the media and in economic and sociological studies, while women of other classes have received less attention. As a consequence, an image of India has been created that does not reflect the multi-layered, complex reality. Aditi's book seeks to redress the balance. Even though her focus is necessarily narrow, limiting itself to the women in Kolkata, it is rich, complex and detailed, and offers a perspective that the percipient reader will realize may be applied to urban India as a whole. -- Mangala Gauri Chakraborty, Loreto College The book is rich with personal narratives of women, and in their voices their conundrums, insecurities and questioning are palpable. What is also useful is the author's awareness and integration of class, while at the same time getting the reader to appreciate that class privilege does not necessarily confer empowerment or a sense of satisfaction with one's life situation. Often, the NGO workers often had to negotiate familial disapproval. The book demonstrates how working to ameliorate the situation of women who are socio-economically or otherwise marginalized, also helped the middle and upper class women studies...Dr. Mitra's transnational personal background brings a valuable perspective that is informed from both within and without. In addition, her academic work and insights enriched the theoretical underpinnings and questions she brought to the research... -- Dolores Chew, Marianopolis Collegeshow more

About Aditi Mitra

Aditi Mitra received her PhD from Oklahoma State University, USA, Master of Arts as a British Chevening Scholar from Leicester University, UK and Bachelor of Arts from Loreto College (Calcutta University), India. She is assistant professor of sociology and women's and ethnic studies (WEST), and was associate director of WEST at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, USA. She has authored numerous articles and book chapters on gender, race and global feminist activism and presented her research internationally.show more

Table of contents

Table of Contents Preface Acknowledgments Part 1: Changing Women: Overview Chapter 1: Introduction Chapter 2: The role of NGOs as women's spaces in Kolkata Chapter 3: Tracing the women's movement in India Chapter 4: A Visionary Partnership: Women and NGOs Part 2: Work and Sacrifice: I haven't been working for money Chapter 5: Working with NGOs Chapter 6: Domestic obligations Chapter 7: Challenges and obstacles Chapter 8: Career incentives and motivations Chapter 9: Image of NGOs Part 3: Conception of Feminism: I am not a Feminist but... Chapter 10: Interpreting and Exploring Feminism Chapter 11: Conclusion Methodological Appendix Bibliography Index About the Authorshow more