RIPESS Europe Scientific Committee - Round I Session IV (September 2021)

Session IV - Feminist solidarity economy in South-India

This presentation aims to introduce the ground realities of feminist solidarity economy in the South-Indian context. Although the term “solidarity economy” does not exist as such, there are a multitude of women-led initiatives, combining struggle and development, experimenting various ways of doing the economy and politics, building innovative social relations and forging solidarities between various social groups, territories and sometimes gender, reimagining decision-making processes, redefining the very notion of value and wealth, and contesting development institutions, private capital and public policies. The presentation will expose in more details two case studies: collectives of women manual workers in the informal sector and a women’s collective specializing in access to and control of natural resources

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Intervention from Kalpana K., Indian Institute of Technology, Chennai


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K. Kalpana is Associate Professor in the Humanities and Social Sciences Department, IIT Madras. Her research area is development studies with a focus on the interface between gender and the development experience. Her published writings are in the intersecting domains of gender, poverty, microcredit, women’s work in the informal sector, women’s trade unions and collective action in solidarity movements. Her book ‘Women, Microfinance and the State in Neo-liberal India’ was published by Routledge in 2017. Kalpana was was elected as an Executive Committee member of the Indian Association for Women’s Studies (IAWS) for the period 2014 to 2017. 

Kalpana participates actively as a resource person in workshops, seminars and campaigns for gender equality, labour rights and human rights organized by women’s movements, students’ groups, trade unions and rural development NGOs. She contributes to capacity-building exercises of governmental bodies such as the State Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Department,  Tamil Nadu Women’s Development Corporation (TNCDW) and State Institute of Rural Development (SIRD). As an activist/ organiser with the People’s Science Movements, Kalpana has had extensive experience working among microcredit (Self Help Group) federations, and ‘Right to Health’ campaigns. 

Intervention from Isabelle Guérin, French National Research Institute for Sustainable Development, French Institute of Pondicherry.

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Her current work looks at how financialization engenders new forms of inequalities and domination, but also alternative and solidarity-based initiatives. Financialization is analyzed through the perspective of debt, which is a powerful prism for analysing all of the social interdependencies that enable the social reproduction of a given society. Her work draws most often from her own field-based original data, combines ethnography and statistical analyses and is interdisciplinary and comparative in nature.

Main publications related to Solidarity Economy/Gender and Development: Reframing the Meaning of Work, Social Reproduction and Democracy Feminist Grass-Root Initiatives and Solidarity in Latin America and India (co-edited with Christine Verschuur and Isabelle Hillenkamp, London: Palgrave Macmillan, forthcoming in 2021). “Unpayable Debts. Debt, Gender and Sex in Financialized India.” (With Santosh Kumar, The American Ethnologist, 2020, 47(3), 219-233.