Working papers / Oral Histories of a Slum and a Fishing Hamlet in Thiruvananthapuram

List Editor Ashok R Chandran 28/03/2014

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From: List Editor

The following working papers were published online last month, by the Centre for Development Studies (CDS), Thiruvananthapuram.

J. Devika, 2013. ‘Land, Politics, Work and Home-Life in a City Slum: Reconstructing History from Oral Narratives’, CDS Working Paper Series, WP 454
http://cds.edu/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/WP454.pdf

Abstract: This paper is a limited attempt at sketching the history of a prominent slum in the city of Thiruvananthapuram, using mainly the memories of residents collected as oral narratives. It stops  in the mid-90s, when decentralisation and women’s self-help-groups began a new phase of social change. It focuses mainly on changing vicissitudes of land, politics, work and domestic life in this urban slum to reflect on the specific form of marginalisation that the residents of this pocket of extreme disadvantage have suffered since its earliest days, in the mid-20th century, which I refer to as ‘marginalisation by abjection’. It also examines the usefulness of widely-used concepts such as ‘political society’ to make sense of politics there, and concludes by cautioning against the perfunctory use of concepts such as political society and clientilism.

J. Devika. 2014. ‘Land, Politics, Work and Home-Life at Adimalathura: Towards a Local History’, CDS Working Paper Series, WP 455
http://cds.edu/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/WP455.pdf

Abstract: This paper focuses on the fishing hamlet of Adimalathura located on the coast of the Thiruvananthapuram district in Kerala, which has been identified as an area of extreme developmental disadvantage. Without claiming to be a full-fledged local history, it seeks to construct, through the memories of selected local residents, a coherent narrative of the past which would help us contextualise the present in this site. Tracing the intertwined trajectories of land, politics, development, and home-life at Adimalathura through in-depth interviews with local residents, it reflects upon the ‘multiple governmentalities’, that of the Catholic Church and the State, that have shaped everyday life in this hamlet. It is argued that the specific form of marginalisation experienced by the people here is that of dispossession. Of particular  interest is the shaping of an ‘oppositional civil society’ here in the late-20th century, which challenged this dispossession, but which is now being reshaped into a more non-oppositional ‘state-centric’ civil society.

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