Walking at Midnight: Women and Danger on Delhi’s Streets
I discuss the walking practice of Delhi-based artist Mallika Taneja in the context of its engagement with, and intervention in, the contemporary conversations on sexualised violence, gender, space and mobility in India. Taneja’s work is part of a variety of feminist activism to take place in India since the horrific gang rape of Jyoti Singh in Delhi in December 2012. Taneja organises regular midnight walks in various parts of the city, which are advertised via social media. This essay explores the significance of walking as a pedagogical tool to understand the relationship between gender, city, space and mobility in Delhi. When conversations on sexualized violence are accelerating in the wake of #MeToo, I examine the contours of embodied knowledge practices enabled by collective walking by women at midnight. I discuss how walking-based methodologies allow for a learning process that is lived, somatic, and personal and which is rooted in specific spatial contexts based on listening and care. Using an intersectional perspective that pays close attention to the role of region, class, caste, sexuality and ethnicity (Mohanty, 2013), this essay is also a prompt against a unified theory of gender, safety, and mobility.