Back | Programme Area: Social Policy and Development, Transformative Social Policy
(Re-)Negotiating Gender and Class: New Forms of Cooperation Among Small-Scale Fishers in Tamil Nadu
This paper explores new forms of cooperation emerging among small-scale fishers along the east coast of Tamil Nadu, as responses to wider transformations in fisheries and coastal landscapes. Increased competition for limited open-access resources has resulted in a capitalization of fisheries, with those able to invest reaping benefits and others risking marginalization. In order to retain their status as fishers rather than labourers, and gain a voice in decision-making structures, dominated by the traditional elites, many small-scale fishers have been experimenting with new forms of cooperation involving the shared ownership of large boats, engines and other modern technologies. In the process, one finds shifts in class, caste, gender and generational roles, relations and identities.
Based on data collected from a survey of 200 households and in-depth interviews with 20 households in Cuddalore district of Tamil Nadu, the paper explores the processes of negotiation and renegotiation of both gender and class identities, and their intersections. It considers whether, and how, new institutional practices and forms of cooperation (and conflict) are enabling a more equitable sharing of resources and benefits, and in which ways they are further entrenching inequalities.
Nitya Rao is Professor of Gender and Development at the School of International Development, University of East Anglia, UK. With over 30 years of experience as a field-level practitioner, trainer, researcher and teacher, she has worked extensively in the fields of gendered land relations, food and nutrition security, migration, education, and intra-household relations, and has published in a range of international journals.
R. Manimohan is Postdoctoral Fellow at the Department of Economics and Rural Development in Alagappa Univesity, Karaikudi, Tamil Nadu, India. His research interests include the political economy of natural resource management and policy, particularly focusing on land, water and fisheries in Tamil Nadu, India.