Gender & Cultural Studies Event: Madhusree Mukerjee, "Sexual Violence and Development"

Wednesday, October 15, 2014 ( 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm )

Location: Kidde 228, Stevens Institute of Technology

Wednesday, October 15, 3-4 p.m., Kidde Auditorium (room 228)
Madhusree Mukerjee (Science Journalist), "Sexual Violence and Development" 

In this lecture, author Madhusree Mukerjee will discuss the recent rise of rapes and other assaults on women in India, arguing that the rise is caused only in part by an Indian patriarchal tradition that feels threatened by the liberation of women by modernity and development. Her ethnographical research of the Santal tribe in eastern India exposes the extent to which the increase in sexual violence derives from modernity and globalization in its marginalized communities. In particular, formerly pristine areas that are opened up for mining experience an influx of unattached males (managers, overseers, truck drivers, and others) who routinely rape indigenous women. Mining also devastates the landscape, leading to a loss of agricultural livelihoods that force women into brothels in the mining townships or into trafficking networks that transport them to distant cities where they are also subject to sexual and other forms of abuse. Such introduction of a “rape culture” into vulnerable indigenous societies, which are traditionally far more egalitarian in gender relations than is mainstream Indian culture, has also led to an increase in sexual attacks by indigenous males. For the most part, rather than liberating the poorest and most vulnerable women, development is intensifying their violent subjugation.

Madhusree Mukerjee received a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Chicago. She writes about environment, indigenous issues, development, colonialism, and science. She is the author of two books, Churchill’s Secret War: The British Empire and the Ravaging of India During World War II (Basic Books, 2010) and The Land of Naked People: Encounters with Stone Age Islanders (Houghton Mifflin, 2003).

This talk is co-sponsored by the Gender and Cultural Studies Program.