Grant TypeDissertation Fieldwork Grant
Institutional AffiliationIndian Institute of Technology, Delhi
Grant numberGr. 10290
Approve DateApril 13, 2022
Project TitleChadha, Neymat (Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi) "Body in Transition: An Ethnographic Study of Hysterectomies among Women Sugarcane Cutters in Beed, Maharashtra"
In April 2019, a staggering increase in hysterectomies(removal of uteruses/pishvis in the local Marathi dialect) was reported among sugarcane cutters in the Beed district of Maharashtra in India. This was steered by the unwillingness of mukadams(cane cutting contractors) to hire female menstruating sugarcane cutters due to the belief that menstruation and pregnancy hinder the physical capacity of female labourers to carry out wage work. Based on sixteen months of fieldwork, this project investigates how the medical practice of hysterectomy, is being employed to facilitate labour processes in sugarcane farms in Maharashtra. Unravelling the paradoxes and realpolitik of seasonal migration, exploitative labour relations, gender norms, agrarian distress and inadequate public health facilities, which build the bedrock of unwarranted hysterectomies in Beed, the project traces the practices through which the bodies of female sugarcane cutters are made ‘bioavailable’ and ‘operable’. By studying the linkages between the economy of female labourers’ bodies in agrarian systems and the economy of their medical subordination vis-à-vis hysterectomies, this project studies how bodies of ‘operable’ women become vehicles of ensuring financial security to increase the potency of their own lives and that of their families–and how these potencies can be fatal and present life-altering risks.