Art in Everyday Resistance: A Case Study of the Pink Vigilantes of India
Shriya Thakkar, an Erasmus Mundus scholarship holder, is currently pursuing her Double MA in Women & Gender Studies at Utrecht University. She works on multiple projects in sexual and reproductive health rights (SRHR) among women in Nigeria, Jordan and Cameroon. Her research interests include internal labor migration within India, role and power dynamics in the household, and mobility and vulnerability among the contemporary Indian women.
The “Gulabi Gang” (Pink Gang), a name with which everyone in the Indian context is familiar, has steadily acquired prominence and fame over the past decade. This extraordinary women’s movement has been nationally acclaimed for its initiatives and efforts to improve the lives of rural women in contemporary India. Whereas, on one hand, this movement was largely perceived in relation to “revolt” for change during its inception in the popular Indian context, this paper, on the other, aims at re-centering the role of art through the color “pink” by the gang members in feminist subversions. It identifies the movement with a novel perspective by exploring how the movement has made dual impacts – firstly, resisting oppression against women and secondly, the utilization of “pink” as an art which remained an inadvertent yet crucial offshoot of their movement in subversion. This paper offers an alternative way of viewing this movement where the role of art in redefining the color “pink” by the rural women in the “Gulabi Gang” remains widely unaddressed. Furthermore, it explores how art acts as a crucial medium to exert one’s agency and is simultaneously utilized as a means of securing livelihood and self-sufficiency for many rural women in contemporary India.