Grievance in Identity Conflict: A Review of Pembilai Orumai (Women's United) in Munnar

Publication Type:

Journal Articles


Shyam Hari P


Conversations in Development Studies, Volume 2, Issue 1, p.21-19 (2019)


Identity conflicts are common features in heterogeneous societies. These conflicts are understood around the grievances that include the specific interests and the value-centric nature of identity. In such a backdrop, this commentary engages with the conditions around the formation of ‘Pembilai Orumai’ or ‘Women’s United’ as a gender identity group in the plantation dominant Munnar Gram Panchayat. Based on the ethnographic survey and focused interviews, the study finds that the formation of the group was bound on specific interests that were independent of the elements of ‘gender’ as symbolic in their name. The association of the group with the gender identity is relatable to the general popularity of gender movements, especially as a point of interest for the media. In the process, the group gained dominance through the help of media publicity, but in practice it innately nurtured the elements of subjugation of itself in the political space. This case highlights a dichotomous viewpoint around the assertion of gender identity in conflicts where identity is treated as an instrument