“Where the Knots of Narrative Are Tied and Untied”: The Dialogic Production of Gendered Development Spaces in North India
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Participatory research with a Rajasthani (India) drinking water supply project indicates that women's participation has generated an ongoing struggle inside the implementing nongovernmental organization (NGO) and in villages. A Bakhtinian analysis of the project's women's participation program can illuminate the micropolitics of dialogic struggles surrounding women's participation and its related spaces. Bakhtin's concepts of utterance, dialogic process, and chronotope offer geographers a framework for analyzing the constant, simultaneous production of meaning and space. A Bakhtinian analysis of NGO fieldworkers' speech accesses the micropolitics within social relations, which construct gendered spaces. Gendered participatory approaches need reevaluation because dialogues about women's participation extend the scope of that participation beyond what is intended by development policymakers and practitioners. As part of their work, fieldworkers simultaneously are influenced by and contribute to shifting spaces of gendered domination, flexible meanings of women's participation, and newly audible voices. Verbal struggles over gendered spaces lead to new meanings of women's participation. These new meanings in turn expand the influence of women's participation as a platform for sociospatial change. Gendered gains may be temporary and incremental, but where before there was little precedent or feeling for women's participation within the drinking water supply project, over time women's participation became linked to all project goals. © 2007 by Association of American Geographers.
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