This paper explores the changing dynamics of women’s labor in a Muslim fishing village in the South Indian state of Kerala in the back drop of two global processes viz., state-initiated capitalist modernization of the fisheries sector and state-sponsored livelihood promotion programs. It traces the shifting contexts in which Muslim fisherwomen, alternately, engaged in and disengaged from, paid work outside the household and shows how women experienced different kinds of paid work, as self-employed fish vendors and wage earners of employment guarantee schemes. Changes in women’s labor force participation were mediated by the social institutions of family and religion, community patriarchies and ideologies of female domesticity and the state’s endeavors to constitute women as entrepreneurial actors who take responsibility for the economic well-being of their households. The paper maps women’s struggles to secure and retain paid work in the face of a resurgent domestic feminine ideal and its zealous defenders in their village.

Author Biography

P. Aswathy is a doctoral student at the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras, Chennai.

K. Kalpana is Assistant Professor at the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT Madras, Chennai.