Mapping Women's Worlds in Contemporary Urban Banaras

Mapping Women's Worlds in Contemporary Urban Banaras
Shivani Gupta


Banaras, a city in North India in the state of Uttar Pradesh, is characterised and defined typically and predominantly through sacrality and holiness. This rhetoric is privileged in every possible discourse around and about the city. The conception of this dissertation and the research thus undertaken, take a different starting point, in shifting away from this particular and archetypal discourse and delves rather into women’s everyday worlds in Banaras. A mapping of ‘women’s worlds’ is generated in the thesis by foregrounding women as everyday actors who inhabit, negotiate and indeed sustain this city through ethnographic research. Women’s narratives, stories, interpretations, belief systems and corporeality act as interventions to the dominant narratives about the city. Mapping of women’s world in the thesis is theorised through four concepts premised on data that emerged through ethnographic fieldwork. These concepts are patriarchal territoriality, risks as everyday necessity, patriarchal trauma and blindspots. The concepts mentioned above were produced through news methods premised on feminist sensibilities which enabled in investigation women’s corporeal worlds. The newly developed methods were that of using vulnerability as a way of building rapport without betraying the interlocutor, walking in the city and conducting walking interviews to understand women's interpretation and sense of place-making. These ethnographic accounts thus produced not only demonstrate women’s worlds ridden with control, violence, risk and subversions but also reveal embedded capacities and negotiations which shape women’s everyday lives in Banaras, rather than assume men as its default inhabitants.


Shivani Gupta

Defended in


PhD defended at

National University of Singapore (NUS)


Social Sciences


South Asia


Urban / Rural
Gender and Identity