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Sumona Dasgupta

Edited by Farah Faizal  and Swarna Rajagopalan
Sage Publications, Delhi, 2005, pp. 215, Rs. 295.00

VOLUME XXIX NUMBER 12 December 2005

“Three nouns in search of a verb or a conjunction” is how Swarna Rajagopalan describes the leitmotif of the papers that constitute the edited volume Women, Security, South Asia: A Clearing in the Thicket. The search for the missing verb or conjunction epitomizes, in a sense, larger explorations for new metaphors and paradigms that are now beginning to redefine the old contours of security studies. Feminist interventions in the field are at least partially responsible for this new search. Feminist ideas and methodologies have increasingly animated the discipline of International Relations especially since the late 1980s. Security Studies, long regarded as a child of International Relations, could naturally not remain completely insulated from this influence, which sought to bring in new sensibilities, and multiple levels of analyses to bear on issues of peace and security. South Asian studies that explore the relationship between women and security have however been few and far between.  A volume that seeks to explore women’s understandings of security, in the specific context of this region, is consequently a welcome addition to the field.      A volume of essays published in 2001 by Sage titled Women, War and Peace in South Asia: Beyond Victimhood to Agency (edited by Rita Manchanda) had examined issues of victimhood and agency through narratives of women located in sites of violent conflict in South Asia1. Four years down the line, this collection of papers revisit a similar theme but with a difference in emphasis and scope. First, the current collection includes situations of apparent peace along with that of armed conflict. Indeed one of the most important contributions of this volume is the manner in which the notion of conflict has been configured. There is a clear recognition that conflict is not only of the active and armed variety but can well be congealed, frozen, and latent in its manifestation. The volume also breaks new ground by implicitly acknowledging that while the levels of analysis are analytically distinct they are conceptually fused. Consequently it diversifies the levels of analysis to include not just conflicts waged against the state but also conflicts that play themselves out in the home, in public spaces, at the workplace, at the level of the community, in the nation state and beyond.         In a perceptive contribution to the volume, the first paper by Swarna Rajagopalan not only sets out the basic research questions but also problematizes security in ...

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