CSSS organises a talk by Hélène Guétat-Bernard

Event From Date: 
Thursday, 12 September 2019
Event End Date: 
Thursday, 12 September 2019
Event Title: 
CSSS organises a talk by Hélène Guétat-Bernard
Event Details: 

Centre for the Study of Social Systems

School of Social Sciences


Invites you to  CSSS Colloquium



The death of the rivers in the Deccan

Water management and gender asymmetries in South India



Hélène Guétat-Bernard

(French Institute of Pondicherry)


September 12, 2019 (Thursday), 11am

CSSS Committee Room (No: 13), SSS-II


Abstract: The increasing climate variability and the consequences of the current agricultural system is linked to the effects of the Green Revolution on soil and water resource degradation.   Women farmers have their own social constraints and in the context of social division of labor they also have specific knowledge. At the same time, limited range of voices is left to them to defend their point of view in criticizing the model, particularly on water management, and groundwater. The concept of inter-sectionality of inequalities show that not all women have the same skills and knowledge about nature and that environmental damage does not affect all women in the same way: they are obviously more or less meaningful depending on class, race, age, etc., and the sexual division of labor. This division of women's groups is very present in our field of study between women belonging to the dominant caste of the Lingayats who own land, the lower castes of small landowners, often without wells, and the tribal communities. The example of groundwater in Chamrajnagar district, Karnataka, is a good illustration of the difficulty of thinking about water and especially, the ground table as a Common. Individualistic use of water, without collective rules, has dried up many borewells used as the principal method of irrigation, to the extent that some entire villages are coming back to rainfed agriculture. The disappearance of rivers is also the consequence of excessive use of the ground water table and lack of care of the environment. But some research makes a link between the two phenomena and rivers are disappearing in silence without any social movement (except on dam problems) or mass mobilisation. Women farmers are voiceless, even those from land owning families because water use decisions about irrigation is a male question.


Bio: Dr Hélène Guétat-Bernard is the Head of the Department of Social Sciences at the French Institute of Pondicherry. She has specialized in social geography and sociology of agrarian and rural changes with a focus on spatial mobility, sexual division of labour, access of resources, empowerment and gender, feminism. Her current work focuses on the agroecology as a social movement, the defense of agrobiodiversity/food quality and the links with care environment and ecofeminism based on fieldwork in India,Brazil, Sénégal, France.Coordination of an international network on Gender/feminism and Agroecology.