Knowledges that claim to end oppression and marginalization frequently end up feeding the same hierarchies that produce those oppressions. In the academy and in the development industry, it is not uncommon for ‘local’ or ‘subaltern’ knowledges to be positioned as ‘raw data’ to be utilised by the formally certified intellectual or expert, and even presented sometimes as obstacles to development goals that may have been imported from elsewhere. This introduction serves as an opening to a ‘conversation’ among five scholars who have different yet overlapping engagements with the complex terrain of knowledge-making on sex and gender, based on their long-term work in India. The conversation interrogates the knowledge hierarchies that are implicit in the way gender, sex, sexuality and empowerment are conceived, presented and pursued by scholars and practitioners in development studies. Through four essays, each of them followed by a written exchange among authors, we jointly consider the terrain of knowledge production by engaging variously with critical scholarly engagements that have sought to reimagine, reclaim, or theorize ‘local knowledge.’ This involves pausing, centering, and lingering with those tales, life histories, songs, epics, and other forms of narrative practices that have often been pushed aside in scholarly engagements. In thus challenging the universality that is valorised, we engage historical-material diversities of gendered practices and experiences and recognise the fluidities and multiplicities of the positions from which knowledges about sex, gender, and empowerment emerge, define, and reshape our worlds.
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- feminist epistemology
- sex and gender
- women’s knowledge