This book explores how one socialist women's organization based in India has flourished in neoliberalism's shadow. From 1991 to the present, the doctrine of liberalization has guided Indian politics and economic policy. These neoliberal measures have vastly reduced poverty alleviation schemes, price supports for poor farmers, and opened India's economy to the unpredictability of global financial fluctuations. During this same period, The All India Democratic Women's Association has grown from a national organization with roughly three million members to one with nine and a half million members, the majority of whom are landless rural women and urban working poor women who daily face caste, class and gender discrimination as well as intensified Hindu fundamentalist violence. Taking an interdisciplinary approach, Armstrong grounds theories of women's activism in the specificity of local, regional and national Indian campaigns, through the stories of AIDWA member-activists, participant observation of local projects like their legal clinics, and the history of their movement.
Scholars engaged with feminism, socialism, women's solidarity, activism, or transnational politics will benefit greatly from reading this work.
Elisabeth Armstrong is Assistant Professor of Women's Studies at Smith College. She is the author of The Retreat from Organization: US Feminism Reconceptualized (Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 2002). In addition, she has written "After the Tsunami: Women Fight for Fair Aid Distribution" (Meridians: Feminism, Race, Transnationalism, 2006), "Globalization from Below: AIDWA, Foreign Funding and the Gendering of Violence" (Journal of Developing Societies, 2004) and [co-authored with Vijay Prashad] "Solidarity: War Rites and Women's Rights" (CR: The New Centennial Review, 2005). She has studied the development of AIDWA since 1991, when she first went to live in New Delhi.