The 21st century shows progressive spirit in many aspects. However, the representation of women can hardly be considered as an area which has shown much progress. Compared to 20th-century iterations, they show a steady decline. The Malayalam women’s magazines which flourished towards the end of 19th century and early 20th century showed a promising phase in the education and development of women. The paper intends to show this contrast by a close analysis of some works from this period. In this paper, I analyze select articles from the Malayalam magazines Mahilaratnam(1916)andSahodari(1925).I will be exploring an Advertisement, a Matrimonial Notice, and an article titled Sthreekalude Abhinyuathi(Women Empowerment) by Mrs. C. Jacob from the magazine Mahilaratnam (1916)and three articles titled Streedharmam(Women’s Duty)by K.Ayyappan, Grihanayikakalude Vidhyabhyasam(Education of Housewives)by N.Kumaran,and Sthreekalum Swathanthryabodhavum(Women and their sense of Freedom)by K.C.Naryanan from the magazine Sahodari(1925).
Bombay Gnanam (Gnanam Balasubramanian) started the all-women Mahalakshmi Ladies Drama Group (MLDG) in 1989. It hasn’t been easy for the women to take time from family responsibilities, but they make the time because the troupe provides a space for them to talk about their issues with other women as well as a creative outlet through which they can act on stage. The MLDG has made a niche for itself in the male-oriented sabha theatre scene in Chennai, gaining acceptance as well as praise from even respected male Hindu religious leaders. I discuss the story of the MLDG and argue that their own identities as educated, affluent middle-class Brahmin women along with strategic storytelling and staging methods has allowed them to not only avoid censure but to become popular with the conservative, traditional Brahmin community in Chennai while bringing controversial topics to the stage. They have developed strategies over the years that range from basic cross-dressing to criticizing the actions and attitudes of other women, presenting all perspectives to an issue, leaving the plays without resolution so that audiences can insert their own values, and recently allowing male voices onto the stage through recordings.
The paper focusses on graphic narratives -The London Jungle Book (2004)by Bhajju Shyam and Drawing from the City(2012) by Teju Behan, produced by Tara Books, an artists’ collective and publisher of graphic literature, based in Chennai, India, which lie at the threshold between adult picturebooks and artists’ books. These worksemphasise the embodied landscape and the performative art traditions of the Pardhan-Gond and Jogi art traditions respectively. The transformation of the personal through the collective art practice and memorialisation of the collective practice through the personal experience enables the artists to articulate a different kind of cultural politics, that questions the conventional frameworks of reception of non-elite vernacular and popular art forms in the contemporary art world. The paper employs the concept of “autographics” as proposed by Gillian Whitlock and Anna Poletti, which suggests a form of engagement with the modes and materiality of representation, the techniques of production, the colours, styles and textures in the art form as necessary means of signification of the self in graphic life writings. The paper attempts to show how these graphic works resist reading and translation into a single medium and instead divert our attention towards the sensorial experience of engaging with graphic life narratives.
To, the Rafto Foundation, Sisters & Brothers, Friends, and the International Human Rights Community, Assalamu Alaikkum, My heartfelt thanks to the Rafto Foundation for co-awarding me the 2017 Rafto Human Rights Prize with ParvezImroz, the co-founder of The Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons with me. It is an honour to receive this prize. I am very happy today as this prize will provide an opportunity to us to highlight APDP’s and Kashmir’s struggle for justice. The struggle which has become a spectacle for the world, but a reckless misery for the people of Kashmir I am also full of grief today because I remember my son and all the dear ones who have been disappeared, detained, tortured, blinded and killed by the state forces or the state-backed militia. In Koshur we say, mei cha daghlalnawaan. I am cradling this pain – as a mother.
The Shaheen Bagh protests of 2019-20 were a nation-wide performance of dissent against the Indian citizenship laws CAA, NRC and NPR that would religiously discriminate against Muslims. Began and led by Muslim women from the neighbourhood of Shaheen Bagh in Delhi, the protests engendered critical conversations around the nation, the gendered body, space, history, and legal citizenship. The essay is a critical exploration of the counter-narratives the protestors performed against the State’s discriminatory, divisive and violent narratives, through the lens of performance studies. The bodies of the protestors became spaces of dissent and the bearers of the multiplicities of the nation, the corporeality of the individual, the domestic space, the Muslim neighbourhood, and the protest space expanded, encompassing, and even creating, the nation itself. The essay, thus, argues that as the protest site became a space of multiplicities, the protestors built the nation(s) of their secular imagination and their disidentifications presented the excess that the State could never fully regulate.
This paper seeks to examine the notion of truth in survival tales, Adrift (1986) and 438 Days (2015), through analysing the Cartographic element in them. Both Adrift and 438 Days, described as true tales of survival (where the castaway subject survived alone at sea), employ various maps in them. Deceptively innocuous though it may appear, this research will argue how the maps in these texts have multifarious-dimensions. A map attempts to be truthful, by relying on order and factuality. It has ability to compress mammoth details, while simultaneously presenting them with astounding clarity. However, it must also depend on distortions and omissions to convey a selective reality. The map becomes a contested site, where truth and lie coexist. The understanding of truth as a solid, monolithic entity suddenly shatters. This ambivalence becomes our entry point in understanding the nuanced nature of a map in life writing. Its paradoxical existence, its interconnectedness with things beyond itself, allows the map to possess an added dimension, which the written word does not possess. Furthermore, this paper will highlight how maps in survivor tales do not just place the narrative, but themselves exhibit a narrative potential. The relation between the written word and the experienced world culminates harmoniously in the visual world of map. This study will argue how the map provides a framework necessary to structure the text. Furthermore, this paper will also depict how a map transcends its factual role, and becomes a holder of memories by making the survivor’s traumatic experience more palpable. This research will ultimately attempt to challenge the rhetoric of concealment around maps, and pierce through the myth of their apparent objectivity. Through a work of select scholars this study will scrutinise maps as social constructions of power and knowledge in survivor narratives which mould the reader’s understanding of truth.
Women artists have performed in the Tamil theatre genre known as Special Drama since the early twentieth century, though they have been highly stigmatized for their participation. Based on ethnographic fieldwork with Special Drama artists in the early 1990s, I returned in 2014- 2015 to conduct a follow- up study on the subsequent generations of drama family lineages. I became increasingly concerned – largely because this proved a primary concern of the artists themselves – with problems posed by the lack of any established route for the cultural transmission of knowledge of this field. In this essay I document one hereditary acting family lineage in which the stigma on stage actresses has resulted in a silencing of family history. I discuss Special Drama artists’ ideas for how to encourage subsequent generations to take up this profession, and how my own presence and support contributed to their efforts to repatriate the artistic tradition. I focus specifically on the courageous decision of one young woman, a member of the fifth generation in the hereditary acting lineage I document, to buck the trend of her generation and become a dramatic Heroine even in the face of the globalizing social and economic climate of contemporary India.
“Nachni” women from the eastern part of India, are popularly known in parts of Bengal, Bihar and Jharkhand as marginal performers who earn their living through a performing partnership with the Rasik (the male partner) while remaining in a fragile, yet domestic quasi- conjugal alliance with him. In research and popular writings, these women have been seen as the exploited, marginalised, and socially maligned practitioners. In the current research the signification of the social/cultural presence of the Nachni woman is sought in her performance and the communications that she creates through with her accompanists, audience and the larger society. This paper focuses on the social and the performative spaces that the Nachni inhabits, and the duality of the reception of her social self vis a vis her body. This duality of reception also brings to the fore, the need to theorise commoditisation of the woman’s body where the body, so long as it is seen as a product, and therefore a consumable, is not a threat, unlike the threatening polluting capability of a social presence of the owner of that very same body.
Kathakali is a traditional Indian dance native to the southern state of Kerala. To perform it, artists deck out in elaborate costumes and colourful makeup to tell stories from Hindu epics. A Kathakali performance, like all classical dance arts of India, synthesises music, vocal performers, choreography and hand and facial gestures together to express ideas. The paper attempts at over viewing the traditional themes of the Kathakali such as its folk mythologies, religious legends and spiritual ideas from the Hindu epics and the Puranas. The vocal performance has traditionally been performed in Sanskritised Malayalam. In modern compositions, Indian Kathakali troupes have included women artists as well, the characters of which are discussed herein.
We often think of peace as a big overarching thing that is in the hands of governments and officials. The author posits that true peace is actually an individual act and will only be achieved when we lay claim to our power. How we do so is the focus of her article as well as her life's work.
Interview with Farhana Ismail, MYM Gender Desk member, at the moment when efforts were being made to re-invigorate the Gender Desk, by Margot Badran, Johannesburg, August 8, 2002.
Widely known among Indian theatre forms for its historical inclusion of female performers, the Kutiyattam theatre complex of Kerala encompasses three related performance forms – Kutiyattam, the enactment of Sanskrit drama with multiple actors and actresses; Chakyar Koothu, men’s solo verbal performance; and Nangiar Koothu, women’s solo acting performance. While women were nearly erased from the Kutiyattam stage through a variety of techniques over time, the postcolonial period has seen a dramatic revival of both Nangiar Koothu and women’s roles onstage in Kutiyattam, reflecting a wider democratisation of the art in terms of both performers’ bodies and performance spaces. This article considers the contemporary performance by professional Kutiyattam actresses of both Nangiar Koothu and Kutiyattam. While the two forms belong to a single overarching performance complex, they are remarkably different in terms of women’s performance. Drawing from nearly two years of ethnographic research among the Kutiyattam community in Kerala from 2008- 10, it highlights the perspectives of actresses themselves. In examining whether actresses prefer performing Kutiyattam or Nangiar Koothu and why, the article explores questions of gender and creative agency in women’s contemporary Kutiyattam performance.
Indian rhetoricians, dramatists and poets have in the course of the last two thousand years drafted theories of aesthetics and literature. The paper briefly examines, re-considers and enumerates some of the principal ideas that highlight the understanding of emotional transformation and aesthetic pleasure. The essential considerations in the Alamkara and the Dhvani schools, and those of rhetoricians who followed Abhinavagupta in the tenth century, figure in this narrative along with the variations that the bhakti school effected in the discourse.
The poetry of Tishani Doshi seems to speak upon a lot of themes. The specific paper in consideration discusses the use of human body as a metaphor in the selected poems of Doshi. The paper focuses on the intriguing ways upon which the poet has interwoven the bodily aspects into the otherwise mundane themes ofsurvival, consummation, resistance, civilization and death.
This paper will concern itself with a close reading of a novel (Sunflowers in the Dark) by one of India’s most revered contemporary women writers – Krishna Sobti (1925-). Through a reading of this novel, I will try and understand some of the conditions an affective architecture needs to take into account. Sobti’s work is often celebrated for its (sexual) exuberance – I would try and read how exuberance also has its companion in all the other mixed sibling affects of silence, isolation, courage, despair. Indeed the power of the literary might well be the irreducible miscibility of affect. Such a reading of affect as a fundamental axis might also open a new way of re-entering traditional Indian debates on the aesthetics – the background of traditional notions of aesthetics in India will form the initial, necessary background in the first part of the paper, to the reading of this contemporary Sobti novel.
The paper connects affect studies with Indigenous Studies, Science and Technology Studies, and the emergent field called extinction studies or climate change studies. Claire Colebrook’s two 2014 Deleuzean books on extinction argue for a “theory beyond theory,” where affect would have no place: theory would think beyond human extinction. The paper examines two important categories of discourse around the polar bear, that poster creature for climate change, those of Inuit hunters and elders and those of scientists. The Inuit freely express emotions, the scientists do not. The Inuit see themselves and the polar bear as kin; the scientists’ concern for the bears is not articulated. Nonetheless, for both of them, the bears are what the science and technology studies scholar, Bruno Latour, calls a “matter of concern.” Non-Inuit artistic responses to the possible extinction of the polar bear reveal a strong affective response, unlike the scientific accounts. Perhaps Latour’s suggestion for a “parliament of things” where non-human entities that have become “matter of concern” are represented might help connect these disparate discourses. Although Latour may be too optimistic, Colebrook’s stance seems require an impossible denial of human affect. Even the rational scientific accounts evidence concern based on affect, however buried. One approach that seems useful is that of Theo van Dooren, who looks at how threatened species and humans are connected in an account that examines affect as part of a study that also draws on science.
Gender has always remained an alarming concern for patriarchal power discourse and thereby has been omitted from securing an important place of discussion in parity to the world’s economic, political, social, and cultural crisis. Recent control of the Taliban’s rule on Afghanistan has reflected and repeated the historical totalitarian sense of dictatorship and gender apartheid; so that, the rule of ‘phallus’ in controlling, re-presenting, and depicting the lives of all women is started. Alarms of ‘girls at risk’, ‘women being abolished from professional spaces’ soon emerged with the Taliban’s rule. The news and report portrayed how the Taliban treated women as ‘objects’ and machines of ‘reproduction’, where the vaginal authority is smashed with ‘legitimate’ phallus, and thus the vaginal bodies turn into the ‘sex-slaves’ and servants to serve the Taliban rulers. Power has a crucial role in ordering the central tendency of ‘bodies’; the Taliban target is to have the power; a power that is allowing countries like China, the U.S.A to dominate. It is important to note more than Pakistan, it is China’s support (secretly) that is permitting the Taliban to accelerate. Gender and Power dynamics always altered domains of inheritance and are associated and inclined more deeply towards the white-cis-heterosexual-phallus (gender) in comparison to any other. Women as subjects have always lacked power because restrictions and marking on the accessibility to ‘gain power’ were blurred. Politics and phallus are complementary power dynamics in operation that uses Gender as an operative tool to create ‘crises’ for one and support for the other. Where the power-play within the phallogocentric symbolic order creates the suffering veiled. Hence, my paper aims to present the deplorable condition of women under the Taliban’s rule and make a comparison of their position before 1996 and after that till the present.
Firdouza Waggie and Yumna Hattas of the Gender Desk of the Muslim Youth Movement (MYM) and Margot Badran met in Cape Town on July 17, 2002 to exchange views on Islamic feminism and to discuss issues relating to Muslim communities in South Africa prior to Badran’s presentation at the MYM Gender Desk Roundtable on Islamic feminism on August 3, 2002. The round table was part of the initiative to revive the MYM Gender Desk. Below is an edited narrative of their conversation.
In this article, I investigate the impact of the national liberation struggle on the rise of Islamic feminisms in South Africa. Muslims form less than two per cent of the population in South Africa yet their minority status has not meant their exclusion from political life, including the anti-apartheid struggle. Their involvement in ‘the struggle’ has had many consequences for the Muslim community including encouraging the emergence of Islamic feminist tendencies. I argue that the development of political Islam in South Africa in the 1980s and its interaction with the national liberation struggle helped give rise to Islamic feminisms that flourished from 1990 to the year 1998 when the Islamic feminist tendency began to decline. The article was originally published in Women’s Studies International Forum 28 (2006) 27-41.
The objective of this paper is to explore the origins of radicalism in the politics of Kerala in the first half of the last century as forces that give support to the Communist Party of India (Marxist). This paper is based on the hypothesis that the ‘social and political radicalism’ in Kerala originated in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This was due to the impact of modernisation and became what could be termed as Kerala sub- nationalism. An examination of the caste system, land relations and even the nineteenth century religious revival is necessary for a proper study of the radicalism.
Alice Walker’s perception of divinity in living and non-living beings underpins her ideology of eco-spirituality, which poses faith in the existence of a Universal Spirit that protects, sustains and nourishes all the animate and inanimate beings on earth. She extends the range of her celebrated notion of ‘womanism’ to encompass an all-inclusive balance of living as well as non-living beings, which is precisely what makes womanism different from other theoretical and ideological viewpoints. This paper expatiates on the theme of ecowomanism in Alice Walker’s writings to substantiate that the destiny of the woman of colour as well as the Earth has been the same, both neglected and degraded by the patriarchal values of society.
The city is a heterogeneous space. It is home to large numbers of people belonging to diverse classes, religions, gender, and ethnicity. This paper is an exploration of the questions, what makes it possible for all the diverse groups to be able to call the same city their city? How does the city accommodate such a divergent population? Such questions will be explored through an interdisciplinary study of a particular metropolitan character, Rahul Adhikari, a Mumbaiite from Altaf Tyrewala’s work No God in Sight. The character Rahul Adhikari is peculiar, as he differentiates the city of Bombay as he calls it, ‘My Bombay’ and ‘Your Bombay’. Tyrewala addresses Rahul Adhikari as ‘Siddhartha in denial’, giving his character a religious colour. Hence the first part of the study is an analysis of the religious significance of his story. The second part will inspect how far the attitude of Rahul Adhikari can be equated to the ‘blasé attitude’ of metropolitan citizens which George Simmel claims is characteristic of city life. This will be done by inquiring how the diverse population of the city experiences the city and how they react to the multiplicity of sensory experiences the city exposes them to. Also, since the character under study traverses the city in his car, the effect of mobility on the social relations of the urban citizens will be investigated.
Women’s literary writings, particularly the women-centered magazines published in Malayalam – the local vernacular – was critical in shaping the “idea of the modern body” in the making of the colonial subject in Kerala, a coastal, peripheral southwest state in India. These magazines emerged towards the end of the nineteenth century and flourished in the early twentieth century at a time when Kerala was witnessing a constant colonial attempt to tame and regulate colonial, native female bodies. The body, especially its sexual aesthetic and desires, became precarious to the historical project of shaping the modern colonial subject. The discursive public space of these magazines interrogates the colonial reform discourse in the region, which imposed a new gender and sexual order in shaping governable subjects, publicly articulating the social relationships of colonial time and space. Thus, early women’s writings in Malayalam acts as a critical tool in decentering colonial dialectics, deconstructing cultural spaces, expressing alterity, and articulating multiplicity towards the decolonization of gender.  Judith Butler, in a lecture-seminar session titled “Who is Afraid of “Gender”?” as part of Makerere Institute of Social Research’s Global Conversations webinar held on the 29th of April, 2020, states that gender is neither “a universal theory,” nor “a category” that is continually applicable, and therefore, be understood as “a contested site.” (“Who is Afraid of “Gender”?”).
This research article reviews the book Women Rising: In and Beyond the Arab Spring, edited by Rita Stephan and Mounira M. Charrad. The primary objective of this article is to critically examine the book, assessing its merits and demerits. Comprising forty chapters authored by diverse contributors, the book employs interviews, translated essays, visual representations, and excerpts from participatory journals to amplify the courageous voices of women across borders and throughout history. The central focus is on the agency of women in the context of the Arab Spring, emphasizing themes of resistance, revolution, and reform, while also highlighting the challenges they face, including sexual threats, body shaming, and attempts to discredit their work. Notable figures discussed include Afrah Nasser, Tawakkol Karman, and others. The book also examines significant movements and gender-based laws and policies in these regions. It employs captivating language and supports its arguments with data and citations, maintaining a page-turning pace through its diverse authorship. Women Rising explores patriarchal constructs, classism, and the role of women as active agents of change, making it a relevant and contemporary resource.
This article attempts to elucidate the experience of fragmentation from the perspective of trauma studies, an offshoot of psychology. This study originates as an inquiry into psychic trauma, a phenomenon that one cannot locate exclusively within the domain of the cultural, historical, and the personal, but at the crossroads between these realms. Trauma studies came to prominence in the early 1990s and moved away from medicine and psychiatry during the past half-decade. Trauma theory belongs to the tradition of post structuralism.Post structuralism demanded a new way of thinking about how events in the past return to haunt the present.Trauma theory, adhering to Post structuralism is analytical and speculative and attempts to work out what is involved in experiencing traumatic events, in its representation and the like. Trauma theory suggests ways of re-conceptualizing decisive directions in critical theory. It focuses on the rhetoric of poststructuralist and postmodern theories and their emphasis on decentering, fragmentation, the sublime and apocalyptic and seeks to explore the relation they have to the traumatic historical events as well as personal events.Thus trauma theory serves as a tool to analyze and resituate the experience of holocaust and foreground the aftermath of traumatic events.More over trauma narratives demand a new mode of reading and critical thinking. Current trauma theory, which draws heavily on nineteenth and twentieth-century psychoanalytic theories, emphasizes trauma as a psychic wounding, an encounter of the mind with violence and the crisis of meaning.