Living a Flooded Life: Women, City and Community in North East India’s Dibrugarh

By Evy Mehzabeen

The paper makes a case-study analysis of the annually flooded Dibrugarh town of the Brahmaputra valley of India’s northeast, and looks at floods as disasters in the context of how women negotiate, adapt and survive an annual phenomenon of flood. The paper has tried to interweave multiple narratives arising from differentiated gendered roles played by women in the pre-flood, during floods as well as in the post-flood periods, as collected through interviews and discussions to showcase how women use their agency to make place within as well as outside the community through dialogues, shared experiences and inter-community social capital. It discusses gendering space through the changing lived spaces of a household in the flooded and non-flooded period for four different communities united by flood. The first section of the paper looks at the City as a site for recurring disaster. The second section discuss agency of women as an emanating tool to face, adapt and survive disaster, expanding beyond herself to family and community. The third section presents the spatialities of adaptation manifested through built-form, arising as an outcome of gendered vulnerability and adaptation practices, as translated onto the spaces they inhabit, throughout the flood-cycle.

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