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Everyday (in)security / (re)securing the everyday: gender, policing and violence against women in Delhi

Marhia, Natasha (2012) Everyday (in)security / (re)securing the everyday: gender, policing and violence against women in Delhi. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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This thesis contributes to the literature seeking to reconceptualise human security from a critical feminist perspective. It argues that security is a field of power, implicated in context-specific ways in the (re)production of gendered violences, and that human security must account for how such violences are (re)produced in and through the everyday. It explores how socially and historically embedded security institutions, discourses and practices are implicated in ‘the (violent) reproduction of gender’ (Shepherd 2008), taking as a case study Delhi Police’s initiatives to address violence/crime against women, in response to the city’s notoriety as India’s ‘rape capital’. Drawing on 86 in-depth interviews and 6 months of observational fieldwork with Delhi Police, the thesis shows that Delhi Police have found innovative ways of doing ‘security’ which depart from its association with (masculinist) authority and protection, and which apprehend violences embedded in the everyday. However, the effects are contradictory and ambivalent. Despite challenging some aspects of gender relations, the policing of violence/crime against women also reproduces conditions which enable and sustain the violence. The thesis explores how police discourses construct violence in terms of vulnerability and responsibility, in ways which both normalise and exceptionalise certain violences, and map gendered safety onto normative ideas of sexual integrity such as to reproduce the heteronormativity of marriage as a compulsory institution for women. It investigates the spatial and temporal distancing through which violence/crime against women is constructed, and the consequent reproduction of class differentiation and identification, and normative gender and sexuality. It considers how the unstable gendering of policing, and police work, intersects with and contributes to such constructions of violence/crime against women, and their discursive effects. The thesis concludes with a qualified and partial recuperation of human security as emancipatory – where emancipation is conceived as transforming oppressive power relations, and power is understood in a Foucauldian sense as pervasive, unstable and productive. It highlights the limits of security, and the relativity of its achievability.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2012 Natasha Elise Marhia
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Sets: Departments > Gender Institute
Supervisor: Kaldor, Mary

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