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By Anupama Rao (ed.)

Many of the essays during this assortment have emerged within the context of a renewed nationwide debate in regards to the politics of caste inaugurated through the Mandal determination in 1989—a determination that has renewed calls for for social justice through dalits and lower-castes. Dalit-bahujan feminists transcend arguing that Indian feminism is incomplete and specific and recommend that we reconsider the family tree of Indian feminism in an effort to interact meaningfully with dalit women's "difference" from the proper matters of feminist politics.

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Carl, an anarchist, saw the co-op as: ‘Arthurian—a small group of people set in a struggle against the times’. Others did not see its political and economic difference as primary, but stressed their collective social nonconformity. Joseph, who was an ex-bomber, said: ‘We’re the most amazing collection of social outcasts working together on one project that you’ll probably ever see’. No one described the group as law breakers but this was a theme that emerged covertly in some descriptions. Peter spoke about those he lived with, most of whom were involved in The Shop, as: ‘… illegal immigrants, barbiturate addicts, all sorts, prostitutes, drug addicts, gays: nearly all got involved at The Shop’.

However, RE-VISIONING EMPOWERMENT 39 those who named The Shop, and its role and functions, were those in power, the anarchists and Christians, the opt outs. They described the reality they had constructed. In the capacity of the right to name, power existed on a very fundamental non-overt and non-manifest level. The power of the name ‘cooperative’ was crucial in how I initially analyzed The Shop. For the at risk The Shop was firstly a place where they could drop in, be accepted and have a cup of coffee.

They did not have such close relationships with the opt outs at The Shop. It appeared that because they lacked close relationships with people whom they could trust, and whose values they could identify with, they found it much harder to integrate, or to see value in attempting to join the mainstream. The young people who were poorly educated, from lower socio-economic backgrounds and abusive families were also fairly inarticulate in terms of the idiom of the dominant society and did not have the skills or knowledge to market what they had done at The Shop to potential employers.

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