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"
NEYMAT CHADHA, then a graduate student at the Indian Institute of Technology, New Delhi, was awarded a grant in April 2022 to aid research on “Body in Transition: An Ethnographic Study of Hysterectomies among Women Sugarcane Cutters in Beed, Maharashtra,” supervised by Dr Richa Kumar. The research behind this ethnography relies on the recorded narratives of female sugarcane cutters who underwent early-age (post-teenage) hysterectomies — removal of the uterus, as young as 22 years of age in the drought-prone belt of Marathwada and presents the complex problems of these medical procedures relative to the existing late-age menopausal hysterectomies. The complexity is in the mutual presence of a medicalized embodiment of bodily suffering and participatory tact of the laboring women involved in their life situations. Through the genealogical mapping of over 130 women, this ethnographic project reveals the multitude of causes that facilitate what Neymat refers to as ‘filial operability’; despite witnessing the morbidity and risks associated with early-age hysterectomies among their mothers or sisters, women continue to undergo these procedures over three generations. In tracing the violent intersection between operability and biopolitical regulation, with a particular focus on women who undergo hysterectomies after state-incentivized sterilization (tubal ligation), the ethnography exemplifies how hysterectomies as strategies do not merely position the bodies of women as being bioavailable but also prove signposts to (re)claim the hope for what could be seen as a ‘bio-viable life’. This project unravels the intricate embodiment through which the fluctuations and compulsions of the neoliberal market are exemplified through women’s bodies that become vital links to personal and familial viabilities. Yet, as is evident, these viabilities ironically hinge on potential risks, including chronic pain, recurrent morbidity, and fatality–thus offering critical, although gruesome, insights into the articulation between gender, caste, labor, biopolitics and rural poverty.