The International Handbook of Gender and Poverty
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The International Handbook of Gender and Poverty

Concepts, Research, Policy

Edited by Sylvia Chant

In the interests of contextualising (and nuancing) the multiple interrelations between gender and poverty, Sylvia Chant has gathered writings on diverse aspects of the subject from a range of disciplinary and professional perspectives, achieving extensive thematic as well as geographical coverage. This benchmark volume presents women’s and men’s experiences of gendered poverty with respect to a vast spectrum of intersecting issues including local to global economic transformations, family, age, ‘race’, migration, assets, paid and unpaid work, health, sexuality, human rights, and conflict and violence.
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Chapter 98: Poverty, Entitlement and Citizenship: Vernacular Rights Cultures in Southern Asia

Sumi Madhok


Sumi Madhok Introduction Some parts of rural Southern Asia are witnessing the appearance of ‘rights-scapes’ or newly emerging forms of political cultures underpinned by an unambiguous language of rights. These ‘rights-scapes’ are constitutive elements of what I have elaborated elsewhere as ‘vernacular rights cultures’ (Madhok, 2009 [see Acknowledgements at the end of this chapter]). The new forms of political cultures produced are predominantly nonparty political, they articulate political claims in a language of rights, they mobilise in support of public policy legislation, and they justify rights on philosophical premises that are in large part independent of the state. By vernacular rights cultures, I do not mean that rights govern interpersonal relations or indeed that they command consensus and recognition within everyday discourse; on the contrary, they open up new arenas of conflict particularly in the realm of gender and caste relations. While being mindful of these, however, I do intend to draw attention to a certain unhesitant use of a rights language to define entitlements and to make very specific claims in relation to the state. Political mobilisations centred on citizenship rights have not only contributed to fashioning innovative rights thinking, rights politics and citizenship claims, but have also resulted in the passage of several significant anti-poverty legislative measures, particularly in India. It is important to note that these rights articulations are expressed not through neologisms but within the vernacular, and that they do not occur as singular or even odd prototypes but draw upon, and are accommodated within, existing...

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