Taking Action: The Desiring Subjects of Neoliberal Feminism in India
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AbstractThis paper reflects on an emergent brand of feminist activism in India that responds to everyday sexual violence against women in public. I focus specifically on the efforts of middle class women who organize through online media to conduct interventions in urban Indian public spaces. I review these recent feminist interventions and locate them within a historical review of the women’s movement in India to suggest that contemporary feminist organizing embodies and reflects India’s turn to neoliberalism in the 1990s. While neoliberal reforms have been analyzed within the terms of political economy, this paper extends existing research to consider how neoliberal subjectivities shape a new feminism. The contemporary feminist interventions under review draw from individual testimonials to form the basis for activism, affirm the agency of participants to transform their urban environments, and foreground desire and consumption as central gendered rights. In sum, this feminism shifts its attention from legal redress and state intervention to cultivate entrepreneurial activists who adopt responsibility for their experiences of urban space as agentive actors.