Intimacy and Injury maps the travels of the global #MeToo movement in India and South Africa. Both countries have shared the infamy of being labelled the world’s ‘rape capitals’, with high levels of everyday gender-based and sexual violence. At the same time, they boast long histories of resisting such violence and its location in wider cultures of patriarchy, settler colonialism and class and caste privilege. Northern voices and experiences have dominated debates on #MeToo, which, while originating in the US, had considerable traction elsewhere, including in the global south. In India, #MeToo revitalised longstanding feminist struggles around sexual violence, offering new tactics and repertoires. In South Africa, it drew on new cultures of opposing sexual violence that developed online and in student protest. There were also marked differences in the ways in which #MeToo travelled in both countries, pointing to older histories of power, powerlessness and resistance. The book uses the #MeToo moment to track histories of feminist organising in both countries, while also revealing how newer strategies extended or limited these struggles. Intimacy and Injury is a timely mapping of a shifting political field around gender-based violence in the global south. In proposing comparative, interdisciplinary, ethnographically rich and analytically astute reflections on #MeToo, it provides new and potentially transformative directions to scholarly debates, which are rarely brought into conversation with one another. With contributors located in South Africa and India alone, this book builds transnational feminist knowledge and solidarity in and across the global south.
Intimacy, injury and #MeToo in India and South Africa
Nicky Falkof, Shilpa Phadke, and Srila Roy
In a short period of time, we have witnessed both the seismic effects of the #MeToo movement and its ageing. We have felt the optimism that gathered as the hashtag travelled, while being sceptical about this particular wave of ‘clicktivism’. Even as we saw how an individualised ‘me’ gathered and mobilised an ever-widening ‘too’ – exemplifying how a hashtag amalgamates individual experiences into a story of systemic harm and mobilises collective solidarity – worries accumulated. For every Harvey Weinstein who was stripped of power and influence, there was a Brett Kavanaugh who accumulated power and capital in spite of the force of women’s testimony. Alongside the downfall of powerful men, women were implicated as aggressors.