Liminal States: Propertied Citizenship and Gendered Kin Work in Middle-Class Kolkata Families

Donner, Henrike. 2022. Liminal States: Propertied Citizenship and Gendered Kin Work in Middle-Class Kolkata Families. Critique of Anthropology, 42(4), pp. 457-476. ISSN 0308-275X [Article]

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Abstract or Description

This article traces the way the intersection between gender, class and family values is re-organised in relation to state policies that enable propertied citizenship through homeownership. Focusing on ethnographic data from Kolkata, India, it discusses how women realise propertied citizenship in exchange for care work rather than through employment as developmentalist and liberal feminist discourses suggest. Here the way women’s lives are envisaged and represented through investment in high levels of educational attainment is in contrast to low levels of employment, symptomatic of what I call ‘liminal states’ – a gendered state of immaturity and dependence on kin. Homeownership as a means of ‘empowerment’ configures the home as the economic and affective focus of gendered care work, which reproduces Berlant’s ‘cruel optimism’ whereby the desire to own a home and the practices of homemaking hamper autonomy and restrict the efficacy of agency.

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South Asia, India, Middle Class, Gender, Citizenship, Property, Neoliberalism, Kinship, Care work, Family, Domesticity

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30 September 2022Accepted
5 November 2022Published Online
December 2022Published

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Date Deposited:

15 Sep 2022 15:30

Last Modified:

24 Nov 2022 14:02

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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