In this paper I examine the expanded possibilities for selfhood, and hence of agency, of two types of women: volunteers in a community development program in Medan, Indonesia, and municipal councillors in Dehradun, India. Both types of actors are involved in acts of care or service towards others, and most typically describe these actions as central to who they are, or to who they are becoming. Ethnographic research in both sites reveals the importance of 'feeling the right way' in providing care or service activities for the realisation of women's self-fashioning projects. The warm sense of satisfaction that comes from making a difference to the lives of others, or the pride of having managed tasks competently and efficiently, reaffirm that such work is 'right for them', or that they are 'right for the work'. In examining how feelings make possible certain forms of selfhood, I call attention to the role of emotional experiences in shaping women's agency.
|Intersections: Gender and Sexuality in Asia and the Pacific
|Published - 2019