Women’s Mobilizations against Land Dispossession in contemporary India

Project: Research project (funded)Research

Project Details


This project takes the surge of large-scale land acquisitions in the global South over the two last decades as an entry-point for understanding the links between subnational governance and gendered activism countering dispossession and extractivism. Taking Indian experiments with large-scale land acquisitions through Special Economic Zones (SEZs), infrastructure building projects and extractive industries as the empirical base of my study, I hypothesize that political constellations and institutional arrangements at the subnational and local levels influence the varieties, scales and locations of gendered mobilizations in response to land acquisitions, and concomitantly inflect their trajectories.
Dubbed by scholars as “the global epicentre of land grab protests” (Levien 2018, 1), India offers a wealth of material for this proposed comparative study. Indian women have a long history of mobilizing over land and continue to be active in the current context of land acquisitions. Additionally, the decentralized politics of land acquisitions in India implies that their political-institutional governance varies significantly at the subnational level. This makes India an ideal universe in which to develop theories exploring the impacts of local land governance institutions on gendered activism against land grabs.
With the primary objective of reading the political and institutional effects of land governance on women’s mobilizations in India, my research design combines in-depth case study analysis and within country cross-case comparison. The research activities conducted within the framework of this project will include detailed process tracing and grounded theory analyses of interviews, and theorizing relations between sub-national governance and gendered contentious politics.

FUNDER: Swiss National Science Foundation under the Early Post.doc Mobility scheme (grant no. 191232).
Short titleGender, Land and Institution
Effective start/end date1/06/2031/08/21