Gender and the Urban Commons in India: An Overview of Scientific Literature and the Relevance of a Feminist Political Ecology Perspective
Traditionally, the concept of the commons implied a rural commons, an area of common usage for agricultural or pastoral purposes. As increasing numbers of people migrate to cities, however, sociological studies have focused on urban issues, of which the urban commons is one area of emerging research. In crowded, underdeveloped cities, residents must often rely on these shared public areas for their livelihoods or basic needs. This paper provides an overview of the literature on the urban commons in India, illustrating the relevance of a feminist political ecology perspective to sharpen its critical edge. The article begins with an overview of the commons debate and then moves on to analyse the question of the urban commons. After mapping the research on the urban commons in India, it analyses the issue of the urban commons within the context of the gender and environment debate that emerged in the 1980s. This is followed by alternative conceptualisations of gender and the environment as put forward by feminists in the Global South. Finally, a plea is made to engage in the study of the urban commons through the lens of feminist political ecology.
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