ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The Political in Shame

The questions and challenges of our times have thrown up emotions such as shame at the centre of both social and public life. But there seems to be not enough engagement in the discipline of political science to understand emotions in their own right. The central concern of this paper is the question of the political in shame. Is shame political? How is shame as an everyday emotion distinct from, similar to, or constitutive of the shame as political? The paper tries to engage with the emotion theory and bring out the characteristics of shame both as an emotional as well as political concept. Shame instances from the Indian politicalscape are used. It has been argued that shame is a moral emotion. Shame is political (repository of power), localised (experienced in the immediate), learnt (acquired through observation and habit formation), and social (exists through externalities, not as something that is limited to individuals). It is political in the sense that it uses the same language as power and is used rather effectively to create fixed hierarchies. Shame is political in its formulation, processes, and consequences with profound bearings on democratic and decent societies.

Shalishi in West Bengal

Traditional community/village level dispute resolution systems still coexist with formal processes of justice and administration. The `shalishi' is one such method of arbitration in West Bengal that has been used by NGOs to intervene effectively in settling domestic violence cases. Shalishi scores over the more formal legal avenues of dispute resolution because of its informal set up. But deriving its legitimacy as it does from the conventional norms and values of the community it works in favour of keeping the family intact, often compromising feminist notions of empowerment.

Lambadas: Changing Cultural Patterns

The cultural changes that have taken place among lambada communities living in close proximity with the caste-stratified Hindu village society have resulted in all-round deterioration in their social and livelihood levels. The shift in the egalitarian community from the practice of bride price to dowry, and the absence of infrastructure and welfare schemes, has resulted in large-scale trafficking of the girl child.
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