Women Who Design “Master” Bedrooms: A Study of Kerala Women in Architectural Practice | The Plan Journal

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Soumini Raja
Sumitra Nair

While the practice of architecture has traditionally been a male-dominated field in India, gender discourse in architecture has been slowly shifting the gender balance towards an increased participation of women in architectural practice and academics, as both leaders and team members. This paper explores the nuances of feminist spatial practices locating itself in the state of Kerala, India, that has historically unique gender politics. The paper draws on an ethnographically informed study of twelve women architects, using “Master Bedrooms” as a discursive tool to capture their engagement in professional practice. The study revealed that the critical feminist spatial practice is not watertight nor a conscious way of practice. It does not even require conformity to any one idea of feminism. These women practitioners deploy multiple modes of engaging with and challenging the dominant norms of professional practice. These range from conscious acts of individual subversion to organizational structuring, from overt challenges to quiet resistance. This paper offers to problematise contemporary discourse on critical feminist spatial practices in the context of India and thereby, contribute to critical spatial pedagogies.

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