Ribadeau Dumas, Hugo. 2023. “Tāqat, Shakti or Empowerment(s)? Describing the Experience of Power: A Decade of Observations in One Informal Settlement of Patna, India” Journal for South Asian Development, (April 20)
Hugo Ribadeau Dumas, Ph.D. scholar in Urban Geography at EHESS-Paris, authored an article entitled “Tāqat, Shakti or Empowerment(s)? Describing the Experience of Power: A Decade of Observations in One Informal Settlement of Patna, India” on 20 April 2023 in the Journal for South Asian Development.
The article is available at: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/09731741231151292
Abstract: What concepts are best suitable to describe the individual and collective experience of power? Leveraging primary empirical data collected over a decade, the study dwells on the idea of empowerment and puts it in perspective with competing vernacular terms such as ta ̄qat or shakti [‘power’ in Urdu and Hindi]. The study relies on a case study of one woman, a resident of an informal settlement in Patna, India, who experienced a stellar political rise and an equally spectacular fall. The analysis illuminates the multidimensional character of power—one may enjoy a strong exercise of power at one scale and relative powerlessness at another. The ensuing reflection reveals that the concept of empowerment fails to capture the multi-sidedness of power. In contrast, alternative vernacular terms provide an avenue to grasp the contextuality of power. Yet they feature a limitation common with the idea of empowerment(s)—they are conceptually fluid and therefore subject to normative reinterpretations.