“We cannot be touched”: Body and voice in women’s protests in tea plantations
Contesting the understanding of women workers in tea plantations as victims this paper maps their agency through active expressions of protests. While performing the socially ascribed gender roles, responsibilities and practices, there are instances where the women express their agency in definite, visible ways. In understanding the duality of agency and vulnerability, the central role of the body and narratives has to be explored. Protests are manifested through bodily actions where the body is literally put in the line of actions, verbalizing narratives contrary to the dominant narrative. At the same time, however, the examination of the layers within the protest brings out the embeddness of the ascribed gendered roles and position. Through data obtained from two tea gardens in North Bengal, India, this paper explores how protests are played out through the women’s bodies and voices and how this points to a dual and not necessarily contradictory co-existence of agency and subjugation.
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