Webs of Care: Families and Communities in India

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 08:30
Oral Presentation
Nandini GHOSH, Institute of Development Studies Kolkata, India
Disability as often been interpreted as physical, cognitive, or emotional impairment that impedes one’s ability to navigate their social world and relationships, or participate fully in society. Non inclusive social arrangements almost always locate the responsibility for addressing the impairment in the individual having the disability and his/her family, instead of exploring communitarian and state. The overwhelming majority of individuals with disabilities live in family settings and thus disability, by default, becomes a personal and family “problem”, which involves learning to manage the life challenges that having a disability can bring. Problematising familial experiences in terms of how families negotiate disability or impairment, leads to exploring caring as a process that complex negotiations of interpersonal relationships. Feminist theory has highlighted the significance of gender in the process of caring, as traditionally care needs have been met within families and communities, mostly by women, through labour that has remained largely unpaid. This paper will explore the ways in which families of children with a range of impairments negotiate care and other relationships within a largely normative social framework. Through case studies of disabled children and their families in villages of West Bengal, Jharkhand and Odisha in India, this paper seeks to reveal the emotional and physical labour of women, enhanced by the affective bonds of empathy, responsiveness, and attention to the needs of the impaired child to interrogate the complex phenomena of care-giving and caring.