This paper will examine Arundhati Roy's novel A God of Small Things (1997) to show that bodies of water and of women carry social agency along with the cultural symbolic meanings bestowed upon such bodies, both physically and metaphorically. Roy consciously subverts and re-negotiates traditional political and economic understandings of power rooted in structural patriarchal inequalities that have been historically reproduced. In her novel, she allows for an alternative social agency to emerge through the registers of women and water, more specifically through the bodily registers of women and water. A postcolonial ecofeminist framework will be used to focus on the relationship of women to the materiality of water.
Using this framework both further complicates and elucidates the relationships that women can have with water that are in turn intimately linked to other livelihood issues that affect women's lives, for example, privatization and commercialization of water, discourses of (anti/counter) globalization, and issues of visibility of women and their everyday existence that is materially connected to water and the environment. This is a relevant topic in the age of the Anthropocene because of its direct relevance to issues such as environmental justice and indigenous ecologies and knowledges which are sometimes dismissed as being irrelevant in today's scientific age, along with the urgent socio-political issue of extreme water shortage in the South Asian region.
Gurpreet Kaur did her Ph.D. at the University of Warwick, UK. Her Ph.D. thesis was on postcolonial ecofeminism and South Asian women writer. She completed her B.A (Hons) and M.A degrees from the National University of Singapore. Her Master's thesis was on the issue of lesbianism in contemporary Bollywood films. Her research interests include postcolonial ecofeminism and postcolonial fiction, particularly Indian fiction, gender and women's studies, film and television pertaining to gender portrayals. She has worked in NGOs related to women and children in Singapore. She is now co-editing a book on Southeast Asian ecocriticism and is a lecturer of gender and sexuality studies in the National University of Singapore.