Practicing Care and Responsibility: Food Provision by Young Men and Women in a Central Indian Tribal Settlement

Authors: Febe De Geest*, University of Melbourne
Topics: Urban Geography, Food Systems, Gender
Keywords: Marginalisation, Food Provision, Youth, Tribal Community, Informal Settlement, Care, Responsibility
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/11/2021
Start / End Time: 11:10 AM / 12:25 PM
Room: Virtual 42
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


In this paper, I examine how young marginalised men and women play a crucial role in providing food for their families, and how they describe these processes as practices of ‘care’ and ‘responsibility’. I understand these practices based on 8 months of ethnographic fieldwork between 2018 and 2020 in a Tribal informal settlement situated in the periphery of the central Indian city of Nagpur. Through in-depth life histories and participant observation with 20 young men and women – between 18 and 30 years old – before and during a COVID-19 lockdown, I explore how practices of food provision are described by youth themselves as practices of ‘care’ and ‘responsibility’. Moreover, I will discuss how young men and women understand the effect of these practices on their everyday life experiences. For example, young men take up responsibilities to financially support the household to provide food, even during the lockdown, because they want to take care of their families. I find that the lack of possibilities to earn money during the lockdown, and take up caring responsibilities for their family, increased everyday stress and worry for youth during the COVID-19 lockdown in Nagpur. In particular, I also find that young women and men reflect on the social costs and gains of ‘care practices’ differently, and highlight the ways in which these practices are embedded in local notions of gender. By doing so, I situate these findings within a feminist (urban) geography framework.

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