Samyukta Jan. 2001 Vol.I No.1
TREADING THE COMMON GROUND: COLLECTIVE CONSCIOUSNESS IN WOMEN’S AUTOBIOGRAPHY – LALITHA RAMAMOORTHY
Autobiography as the attempt to write the self or give the self a narrative is deeply bound with questions of identity. Variously described as ‘that mixed and transgressive genre’ by Mary Jacobs, and as “the monstrosity of autobiographical writing” by Barbara Jonson, the genre saw its expansion with the proliferation of women’s writing the world over especially after the 70s. Feminism and feminist thought have enhanced women’s consciousness and heightened their sense of awareness. Women’s autobiographical writing differs from male writing essentially in its approach to the subject in question. A woman’s life, in both East and west, is made up of multiple selves that not only overlap but also override and contradict each other. She occupies a number of positions and enters into various relations from which she has to gather bits and pieces of her own self. A woman in her autobiography tries to define herself from the positions which are relevant to her existence. Women’s autobiography has an important political agenda too. Each such work registers an opposition and is radical in some way. The impact such works has made has opened up a whole new area of research. However the optimism regarding academic feminism lies with its ability to ask better questions. It recognizes and acknowledges the differences between women not in terms of fragmentation and weakness of feminism but as parts of a great strength. Out of the recognition and understanding of the differences among universal sisterhood, must come a strategy for political change which embrace diverse categories such as black women, working class women, lesbians and others. Such arguments inform and bolster up the project of using autobiography politically.
THE QUEST FOR THE WOMEN’S SELF: VIRGINIA WOOLF AND THE LIVES OF THE OBSCURE-EVANGELINE SHANTI ROY
Feminism in Britain originated with the women’s suffrage movement of the late nineteenth century. By the turn of the twentieth century, feminists began to concern themselves with other things besides the vote. Virginia Woolf was one of the pioneering feminist theorists who attempted to define the female self. This quest for identity was part of her personal struggle to break out of the role prescribed the British upper middle class patriarchal society to which she belonged by birth. She was interested in women’s social, economic and political emancipation only in so far as it contribute to the emancipation of the woman artist. Despite her fame and public stature as a critic and novelist, it is indeed remarkable that throughout her life she continued to use the genres chosen by obscure women of the past to record her tireless self-probing. She was compulsive letter writer and diarist. Apart from detailed accounts of the creative process underlying the stages in the creation each of her works, these also reveal the stages of her voyage of self discovery. In addition to these, a collection of autobiographical sketches written by her at various times has also been published. All these help us to understand the psyche of one of the greatest woman artists of Britain, but even more, lays bare the naked, sensitive self, seeking a tradition to belong to and discovering kindred spirits among the forgotten women of the past.
FROM PHILOMELA TO THE NIGHTINGALE: THE AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL SONG OF MAYA ANGELOU-HEMA NAIR R.
Though men have been writing autobiographies shaped by the contemplation of singularity, from the time of St. Augustine, women, until recently, lived in such a pre-autobiographical era that singularity was hardly ever spoken of. The difficulty of the woman to articulate herself was perhaps because women were “selves in hiding” and were bound by shackles of convention. The difficulties of a black woman writing herself is further problematized because of centuries of silence imposed on her as a black, as a woman and as the colonized. With the redefinition of the autobiography as an aspect of memory work, part of the spectrum of life histories and oral histories. Maya Angelou’s autobiographical writings can be understood only in relation to the Black autobiographical tradition. Like the thousands of slave narratives, written by fugitive and freed slaves who sought to awaken the consciousness of a nation, Maya Angelou’s “song of myself” is a celebration of the freedom of speech- of words bursting like water from a breached dam. Angelou proves conclusively that “cultural silencing” of the woman can be countered by encoding forbidden stories into literary history. The “most interesting, exciting and important conversation that has ever been heard” is possible when, breaking the silence, Angelou begins the transformative dialogue between herself and the world and creates for woman a place in literary tradition.
WOMAN AND AUTOBIOGRAPHY: MARIA CAMPBELL’S HALFBREED IN RETROSPECT – MAYA DUTT
Maria Campbell’s Halfbreed (1973) emerged into a Canadian literary tradition that had hitherto constructed images of indigenous women that were contrary to real-life experiences. Her works seem to challenge many existing stereotypes and images o indigenous women by providing a vivid spiritual, social, political and economic context of her own “halfbreed” (Metis)way of life. As one of the first indigenous women daring to break silence, by writing her way out of the assumptions that women are submerged under, Campbell begins to realise how her identity has been constructed for her. Her fictional autobiography is significant because it becomes a role-model for indigenous women in their attempt to achieve wholeness and connectedness. Furthermore, Campbell’s text is an important legacy for indigenous women because it represents them, through the personae of Cheechum, Grannie Campbell, Qua Chich and Granny Dubuque as survivors of an oppressive colonial regime, and of abusive relationships, including systematic racism and sexism. She is a true follower of Louis Riel who prophesied at the time of his execution in 1885 that one hundred years later his people would rise up, and the artists, musicians and visionaries would lead the way.
MAHATMA GANDHI – USHA MENON
Even now on the threshold of the twenty-first century when I read certain lines in Gandhi’s autobiography, I am jolted. The child at Rajkot who grew into the advocate in Africa and the Mahatma in India- they were all different facets of his amazing personality. But alas the saintly aura dulled and a mere mortal emerged. The Mahatma turned into irate husband and domineering father, in fact, into the typical Indian male of the early twentieth century. Will someone explain Gandhi’s aphorisms when his actions belie his words? Indeed I saw the greatness of Kathurba, a woman brought up in the heart of tradition thrown willy-nilly into her husband’s experiments. She was asked to fling away without question all that she was taught to uphold as sacred. Kasthurba was a woman, a monument of patience; she who swallowed all her bewilderment and pain, she who followed you through thick and thin- what did you leave her Mr.Gandhi? What but memories of hidden tears, harsh words and painful actions?
THE STRAY GOATS OF THE BAZAR: A SURVEY OF AUTOBIOGRAPHIES IN MALAYALAM BY WOMEN – HEMALATHA DEVI G.
An autobiography is an artistic piece where the charm of imagination characteristic of a story merges with the honesty of self expression. An autobiographer, by portraying a whole universe of formative experiences is not merely narrating the saga of his survival and existence. His work reflects the social, political and communal atmosphere in which he had existed and survived. Unfortuntely a woman usually does not get a chance to ascend a high pedestal to have an overall perspective of life, to taste the rare and queer experiences, to become a role model, to form an opinion of her own by evaluating the various situations of life she has faced and experienced. ‘Her’ life is his life too, ‘Her’ experience his also. The life of a woman is not a phenomenon that can be severed from ‘his’ life. She has no existence apart from his. So when she starts writing her story, it becomes his story. Ivan ente priya C.J. (he, my dear C.J.) by Rosy Thomas, Chettante Nizhalil (In the Shadow of the husband)Leela Damodara Menon, Kesavadev, ente Nithyakamukan (Kesavadev, my eternal lover) by Seethalekshmi Dev:these titles point to the statement made above. B. Kalyani Amma’s Oru Vyazhavatta Smaranakal (Memories of Twelve Years) is a book of memories of a married life that lasted a short span of twelve years. In Oru Sthreeyude Mayatha Smaranakal (The unfading memories of a woman) Mrs. Damayanthi Nath tries to unfold the dark days from December 1941 to June 1945, spent in Borneo, during the second world war. Madhavikutty’s My Story (1973) reveals a revolution at the personal level. Stealing the peace of many minds, she smiles triumphantly, immensely pleased by the naughtiness of writing such an autobiography.There are only a few who recognized the untold miseries and suffocation of the feminine self within the prison house of inescapable daily chores. Hers is a self dimmed by the smoky domestic duties. Women doubt the authenticity of their own experiences. If a woman is honest, she will not give us a rosy picture of society. Her frightened femininity never dares into the turbulent streams of self expression, she lingers on the harmless shores of obscurity.
POLITICS OF KNOWLEDGE AND WOMAN
There is no cultural or social sphere of discourse where the contemplation or commentary on the woman, who is condemned to be exalted and all enduring is not taking place. Efforts at effecting empowerment of the woman are unfolding before us as a mockery of life and a challenge of the times. Even progressive movements cannot escape, but face this dilemma. Women’s empowerment is possible only through development based on progressive ideas. It is now widely recognized that knowledge/information is the master-resource essential for spiritual as well as material evolution. This is because, in the absence of knowledge, there is no means of discerning between right and wrong or applying it in practical life. We must examine how the hegemonic systems distance woman from knowledge even while proclaiming the necessity of sagacious and rational woman. This will help to realise the impact the politics of knowledge exerts on female psyche and the consequent hardships woman has to face throughout life. When all power structures place woman in a subordinate position, she can develop the will power to get involved in the politics of knowledge only by reinforcing her right for equal opportunities as a human being.
T. K. ANANDI
Women’s autobiography does not imply history written by women. It is the history about women. It is not the life history of the acclaimed. The intention of this historiography is to reveal the extent of participation of women in the fight for reforms in life. It is evident that those who frowned at women’s writing cannot tolerate these enterprises as well. Nevertheless only healthy discussions can bring such studies into the mainstream. Social historiography is an area which can assist in women’s historiography. Social history possess s the implements that help in studying socialization of men and women, how divisions in terms of sex come about, the changes that occur in day-to-day life, the family structure, marriage, health, culture and leisure. But it can be said that women’s social history has not been written. Man had already established supremacy in the government, the landlord tradition, war, trade, centres of authority, religion and growth of technology. The methodology o traditional historiography itself does not facilitate the study of women’s spaces in society. Nowadays re-readings of traditional historiography are quite common. New efforts to promote women’s historiography have begun. Feminist reading/writing implies narratives showing how women as spectators and partners view each historical incident and change. New methods and implements are to be utilized to find out the mental occupation and activities of women.
POLITICAL RESERVATION AND EMPOWERMENT OF WOMEN
USHA K. B.
The new millennium has ushered in an era of empowerment of women of different cultures, nationalities and religions across the world. In India also, the last one and a half decade witnessed serious debates and public discussions on the idea of empowerment. The concept appeared as end, a process and a strategy for the development of the backward, the disadvantaged and women in various spheres of life- social, economic, political and cultural. The attainment of powerful positions by women and expansion of their political rights are perceived as important factors for gaining empowerment in other areas of social life, especially after the Beijing World Conference of Women in 1994. In India, the operation of caste, both at the systemic level and also as a foundation of the functioning of patriarchy, warrants a border and multidimensional approach in dealing with gender politics. An approach that takes into consideration the factors of caste, class and patriarchy is needed. Instead of transporting western feminist principles into our socio-political milieu, the Indian feminists should lead the discourse on gender politics in view of things which prevail here and aim at what we need in our environment.
Samyukta July. 2001
KERALA WOMEN: LESS THAN EQUALS?
Women in Kerala, despite many indicators like favourable sex- ratio, literacy, access to education and health care are far from being equal members of the society. The state has witnessed many socio-political changes in the last hundred years. But the period seen as ‘progressive’ saw the building up of a gendered hierarchy, pushing women to a dependent status.
WOMAN AND POWER IN THE NAMBOODIRI COMMUNITY
This article discusses the use of pronominal and kinship terms in the patriarchal Namboodiri community. The aim of article is to reveal the patriarchy reflected in language. It has been found that the position of the dominant male, in the past was reflected covertly, never expressed overtly. The change however is towards the equality of women, at least in linguistic expression, which could be the result of urbanization and formal education.
WAS MATRILINY EVER ANY DIFFERENT? RESISTING THE BINARY-POWERFUL KARNAVAR/DEPENDENT WOMEN
This paper is an effort towards resolving ‘twin’ questions that recur in the context of discussions of women’s erstwhile property rights among the matrilineal social groups, particularly the Nairs, in Kerala. “Is it then the legal system that made the karanavan of the erstwhile matrilineal taravad so powerful or did the legal picture only mirror the ‘real’? If the karanavan was indeed so powerful then was matriliny ever different i.e., did women have rights to property and decision making power in the taravad, atleast in some distant past?” The questions impute a comparison between the contemporary, when matriliny as a legal framework is ‘no more’, and the historical experiences of matriliny. Emphasising the difficulty in drawing comparisons between social frameworks informed by different conceptions of rights, it si argued that the questions pose the issues of a powerful karanavan and women’s rights as mutually exclusive.
THE MEDIA(TED) WOMAN: GENDER POLITICS vs. CULTURAL DYNAMICS
MEENA T. PILLAI
In today’s world of advance d technologies, mass media with its capacity to standardize, homogenize and transform ideologies plays a great role in the formulation of femininity as a set of social expectations created and nurtured in any patriarchal society. As in imaging women, the media has the potential to image/imagine nations too. This paper is an attempt to foreground the suppression, injustice and double standards, which are cleverly masked in the celebration of our national identity.
DEPICTION OF POWER RELATIONS IN THE MALAYALAM NOVEL
The history of Malayalam novel – a history that spans more than a hundred years – is also the history of the depiction of power. The chief novels of each period in Malayalam have manifested this characteristic. Along with the representations of power-oriented relationships they have raised defences against power also. The task they fulfilled was to imbibe and absorb the historical significance of the politics of power co-extensive with the social being, into the structure of their narratives.
WOMAN ‘EMPOWERED’? REPRESENTATION IN INDIAN ENGLISH FICTION
An examination of Indian women’s fiction focussing on women’s issues presents any number of women defeated, ‘dis’ empowered and crushed by the forces they have been struggling against. This essay discusses the above factor drawing examples from contemporary Indian fiction in English.
AMARTYA SEN’S DEVELOPMENT PERSPECTIVE: A VIEW FROM KERALA
This essay focuses on the development thinking of Amartya Sen which has a particular relevance to the life of women. It is an examination of the difference between growth and development. Development is greater than growth. Growth, though potentially can lead to development, has not really done so in all the cases. This is particularly true in the case of Kerala with regard to growth, though its development record is enviable and has attracted worldwide attention.
WOMEN, SOCIETY, POWER
In all socialised communities there is a regular power structure though it may not be visible clearly, except to the discernible eye. The power of the rulers over the ruled, the power of man over woman, the power of the dominant over the marginalized – all these form pyramids of the power structure. This paper attempts to place women in the post-colonial society and studies her relations to power. It also studies the problems of representation – can woman speak for herself or should she be represented by the post-colonial historian or better still by the intellectual?
FLOWERS AND KUMKUM: SYMBOLS OF A WOMAN’S FERTILITY
Human society is in a constant state of flux. Hence certain practices which owe their origin to prevailing conditions at a given point in time often take on considerably different connotations with the passage of years. This paper attempts to examine the changes in meaning undergone by symbols and objects in common use today, from the time when they were first adopted by society. Two such elements that play a very important role in Hindu social and religious practices are flowers and kumkum.
THE ‘FEMININE CAPITAL’ OF KERALA AND GROWTH
The emergence of the domain Malayalee woman during the end of the last century and the beginning of the new millennium has served as a spur to the awakening of the ‘Feminine Capital’ of Kerala. This paper proposes to examine how this has become a significant factor in the human resources development in Kerala.
‘HER STORY’: THE LUCKNOW BAIJEES OF THE 19th AND EARLY 20th CENTURIES
This paper analyses the socio-cultural and historical context of bai culture in Lucknow in the 19th and early decades of the 20th centuries, where it was fashionable for the noblemen to associate with a bai, i.e., courtesan or a bazaar beauty either for pleasure or for special distinction. This paper compares the findings with a reading of the literary representation of baijees in Indian fiction. One particular text – a novel written in Urdu by Mirza Mohammed Hadi Ruswa – Umrao Jaan Ada is focussed on. The imperative of this paper is to deconstruct the frontiers of literary representations, which have marginalised baijees in colonial India.
Samyukta Jan. 2002
(EN)GENDERING HEALTH: A BRIEF HISTORY OF WOMEN’S INVOLVEMENT IN HEALTH ISSUES
JAYASREE RAMAKRISHNAN NAIR AND HEMA NAIR R.
The question of entitlement – the question of who gets what, why and how of the available resources of the society at any given point of time is at the base of the gender justice and equity issue. The interlinked and interwoven nature of these entitlement with the entire gamut of structurally determined gender relations makes the analysis of the entire relationship between feminism, health problems, political rights, social issues and economic issues very difficult. This paper traces the history of women’s involvement in health issues from the 1850s to the present day. Many women’s organizations were involved in identifying core issues of health and struggling to establish the basic rights of women.
WOMEN’S HEALTH CARE: A PICTURE OF DISCRIMINATION
Gender discrimination becomes a serious issue when it has its repercussions on the health of women and leads to unethical practices like female foeticides, female infanticides, higher death rate among women, lower life expectancy, higher morbidity and an adverse sex ration. The 1991 census reflects the worsening status of women in Indian society despite the rhetoric about the Women’s Decade and the Year of the Girl Child. Against this background, the presence and activities of many significant gender conscious People’s Health Movements in our country provide immense relief and optimism in dealing with women’s health problems. The National Health Parliament held at Kolkatta in December 2000 by a coalition of 14 health related networks covering more than one thousand non- Governmental organizations discussed the various aspects of women’s health problems and came out with concrete policy options to tackle them.
TOWARDS UNDERSTANDING WOMEN’S HEALTH: CRITICAL OVERVIEW OF WOMEN’S STUDIES
A Healthy Population is considered to be a national resource. Hence, health is a critical component of planning, policy making and programme formulations in the human resource development of the country. Outside the framework of the State, the provision of health care services to the poor and the needy, has always been a zone for philanthropy and charitable work. It has the quality of being apolitical. The paper examines the contribution of Women’s Studies towards an understanding of women’s health in India and presents the body of knowledge, information and contestation as women’s movement trajectory and research trajectory. The areas neglected by feminist research and gender sensitive initiatives are also listed here. The paper attempts to highlight the importance of viewing women’s health from the perspective of “gender and health.”
ANALYSIS OF MENTAL HEALTH IN TERMS OF ADJUSTMENT OF ADOLESCENTS IN KERALA
MRIDULA NAIR B.
Adolescence is the years between puberty and entry into the adult status/ adulthood. But the transition from child to adult takes place more gradually and lasts several years. Adolescence has traditionally been viewed as beginning with the onset of puberty, with a sudden spurt of physical growth accompanied by sexual maturity which ends when individual assume the responsibilities associated with adult life – marriage, work and so on. Researchers suggest the role of the effect of this growth spurt on the adolescents’ emotional, cognitive and social development.
REPRODUCTIVE AND CHILD HEALTH ISSUES IN KERALA
Kerala has an impressive record in the area of reproductive and child health when compared to the rest of India. The fertility rate is said to be well below what is needed for replacement and its mortality rates are extremely low. It enjoys low infant mortality rates and also low adult mortality rates. Epidemiological transition is well under way and even if the infectious diseases have not been completely eradicated, chronic diseases do contribute significantly to the total morbidity within the state. The usual parameters of reproductive health like maternal mortality ration, maternal morbidity, unmet need for family planning, abortion, HIV prevalence, low birth weight babies, and the nutritional status of mothers and children warrant a discussion in the present context.
ABORTIONS – RIGHTS TO CORRECT THE WRONGS?
JAYASREE A. K.
Abortion is a woman’s experience. Research is not being conducted from women’s experiential viewpoint. For a woman, it is an experience of physical pain, agony, guilt and shame. Yet, women desire to have it on occasions, when they are not prepared to conceive, or when the family members do not want her to deliver a female baby or when there is social pressure for not to have an “illegal child”. Abortions are often opposed by pro-life movement and some religious groups. Anyway, one thing is certain that it has always been decided by the interest of the dominant cultural group in the society, whereas not much relevance is given to woman’s agency. A woman feels guilty about abortion in a society where motherhood is glorified. In the Kerala context, a cultural change is inevitable to address the moral dilemma of abortion.
EPIDEMIOLOGY OF HIV/AIDS – WOMEN’S PERSPECTIVES
HIV infections including AIDS have now become an almost developmental and security problem in most developing counties, in addition to its medical, social and economic consequences affecting the individual, home, society and country. AIDS, first reported in women in 1981, is a major concern for women and girls affecting their motherhood also. Globally, to date 48% of people living with HIV are women and this rate is gradually going up. Biologically women are more susceptible to get the infection, even though not much difference is seen in the progression of the disease. This article discusses facts about HIV/AIDS and the various gender issues related to it.
TOWARDS A HEALTH AGENDA FOR WOMEN IN SEX WORK
The article reviews the experience and approaches generated by the programmes that determine the health agenda for women in sex work in the context of the prevalent discourses and health policies with reference to the particular programmes in Kerala State. It was the threat of the HIV/AIDS epidemic that forced the Government to look beyond the conventional approaches to women’s health based on the mother and child welfare paradigm. The issues thrown up by the HIV/AIDS “throw the canvas open in ways which go far beyond the current paternalistic approach to monitoring the health of pregnant women and infants as passive agents of a family planning oriented development strategy.” The only way in which the harms and abuses in sex work, the problem of trafficking and of HIV can be addressed is through the active participation and leadership by sex workers. To support the rights of women in the sex industry is to support the rights of all women.
LIVING ARRANGEMENTS OF THE OLD IN THE CONTEXT OF MODERNIZATION – A STUDY AMONG THE EARLY WOMEN IN KERALA
JACOB JOHN KATTAKAYAM
By 2021 the growth rate of elderly persons in Kerala will be one and a half times higher than the growth rate of general population. Most of the states in India including Kerala have not decided on Old Age Policy though the Government of India has formed a National Policy on Older Persons in 1999. The growing elderly population is a threat to the socio economic conditions of the State. One consolation is that the elderly themselves are doing a purposeful socialization for themselves. Now the trend is that the elderly do a lot of mental exercise on various patterns of living arrangements and then choose best according to the socio economic conditions.
IN A DOUBLE BIND: INDIAN WOMEN POETS WRITING IN ENGLISH
Indian women had been writing poetry in Prakrit, Pali, Sanskrit and the regional languages long before the problematic of nation-states, nationality, postcoloniality, feminism or naribad, nativism or desivad, power structures and the politics of identity and difference had claimed attention. From a Vedic hymn attributed to one Apala to the Buddhist Therighata of the sixth century B. C., often regarded as the world’s oldest survivivg collection of poems by Buddhist nuns, as well as the poems by the bhakti women poets, the poetry of women expressed overtly or covertly the powerlessness of women and their exploitation as subjects in a patriarchal society. After centuries of darkness, formal education for women in India became a reality in the nineteenth century.
DIVERSITY IN OTHERNESS: IDENTITY FORMATIONS IN INTERCULTURAL ENCOUNTERS
Awareness of cultural differences mostly exists in the context of tourism, where stereotypical representations of the “Other” are taken for authentic cultural “knowledge”. The “Other” is held at bay or expected to say with her/his own kin. However, the profitable “Other”, albeit the tourist or the skilled professional or the prosperous investor, is welcomed and invited to stay if she/he is profitable. Marcial Langton argues that any representation of the “Other” is an imagined construct, that is why identity formations need to be examined – and, if necessary, adapted to changes – in ongoing intersubjective, intercultural dialogues.
FARIDA KARODIA’S OTHER SECRETS
Farida Karodia, born and raised in the Eastern Cape in South Africa, has taught in South Africa and Zambia and spent twenty-six years in Canada. She has reworked her first, Daughters of the Twilight, published by The Women’s Press in 1986 but not available in South Africa at that time because of the apartheid regime’s proscription of alternate black writings. She has turned it into an epic three part novel, Other Secrets, newly published by Penguin, which explores the mother-daughter relationship in the running crisis of the apartheid situation, updating it to include new family alignments in the post-apartheid South Africa. This paper is a study on the works of Farida Karodia.
RESERVATION AND SOCIAL MOBILITY: A THEORETICAL CONSTRUCT
Theory building occupies an important place in Social Science research. It helps one to grapple with social realities, to relate the seemingly unrelated and isolated social phenomena with each other and establish their causes and effects. The primary task here is to comprehend and put in a proper perspective the existing body of thought in the field of investigation and beat them into a desired shape to suit one’s enquiry. This paper seeks to relate reservation with social mobility and develop a theoretical framework to analyse their dialectical interaction.
Samyukta July. 2002
WOMEN AND HEALTH – AN INDIAN SCENARIO
Health is a basic human right/ woman’s right. Attainment and maintenance of good health depends on women’s access to nutritious food, appropriate medicine to treat illness, clean water, safe housing, pollution free environment and timely health services. Women’s health is determined by forces working at homes, work places, society and the state. To address the problems concerning women’s health, a holistic life span approach is needed. Women as human beings, home makers, workers, mothers and elderly citizens face different types of health related issues. Women’s health is determined by the material reality generated by socio-economic, cultural forces as well as gender relations based on subordination of women. Improvement in women’s health is a pre-condition for development of her family.
MENTAL HEALTH OF WOMEN IN KERALA: THE NEED FOR A GENDER PERSPECTIVE
Much has been written about the “high” status of women in Kerala and their central role, historically, in its development based on the remarkable achievements in the social sectors. This is reflected in the highest levels of literacy and health for Kerala women among the states of India. More recent works highlighting the state’s weaker position if health indicators like “morbidity” (in lieu of mortality) were considered. Besides there is a growing uneasiness with equating status thus defined and empowerment. The emerging contradictions in social development between the very high physical health indicators and the alarming growth in female suicides, manifesting extreme mental diseases gives some urgency to the study of women’s mental health problems in Kerala.
WOMEN AND MENTAL HEALTH
The term “mental health” is a misnomer since we cannot separate mental and physical health and confine them to watertight compartments. There can only be one state of health which has both mental and physical aspects. Hence “health” has been defined as a positive sense of well-being- physical, mental and social and not merely the absence of illness. Mental health signifies the capacity of an individual to form harmonious relationship with others and to participate in or contribute constructively to changes in social environment. The subjective wellbeing, human behaviour and the diseases that occur, can be explained by a “biopsycho social model”. Differences in the health issues of the two sexes can be explained by the differences in the interplay of the biological, psychological and social factors.
VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN
The article examines violence against women in India, under various heads such as rape, kidnapping and abduction, dowry death, torture, molestation, sexual harassment, importation of girls, sati prevention act, immoral traffic act, indecent representation of women(p) act and dowry prohibition act, etc. The crime head-wise incidence of reported crimes during 1996 to 1998 along with percentage variation is provided. It is observed that crimes against women in the year 1998 reported an increase of 8.3% and 4.8% over previous years 1997 and 1996. In absolute numbers an increase of 10.073 cases was reported at All India level in 1998 over 1997. The article provides guidelines as to how violence against women can be prevented.
VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN: HEALTH AND HEALTH CARE ISSUES – A REVIEW OF SELECTED INDIAN WORKS
The research to examine the health impact of violence against women and the role of health services and professions has been undertaken in different parts of the country. The research being done and completed use the traditional quantitative and qualitative methods as well as action and intervention research methods. The National Family Health Survey has also asked a few questions on violence, including women’s attitude to such violence. Institutions like CEHAT are conducting research by establishing one-stop crisis centres for women, called Dilaasa in collaboration with the Brihanmumbai Municipals Corporation at the Bhabha Hospital, Bandra, Mumbai. This would attempt to mainstream the support system of battered women through the health care services.
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE–‘THE ENEMY WITHIN’. A PSYCHOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVE
Women are still the victims of violence, seldom receiving any protection or justice. Apart from robbery, burglary, aggravated assault and homicide which men too are subject to, there is another type of violence specially targeted on to women, because of their gender. This comprises child abuse, incest, courtship, violence, date rape, battering, marital rape and elder abuse. Another group of atrocities are melted out to women, neatly packaged as tradition or culture. These include dowry, sati, widowhood etc. Violence against women can be prevented if affective measures are taken. The process should include rehabilitation of abused women, assuring them of safety and providing them with mental health care. The whole effort would require a combination of theoretical inputs, police action and planned social restructuring, and only then will women’s oppression be understood and eradicated.
GLOBALIZATION IN THE HEALTH SECTOR
K. P. ARAVINDAN
Globalization in the health sector is not a new phenomenon. It started about two hundred years ago. The qualitative change in the overall health of mankind is achieved through globalization of modern medicine. But ideologically the new globalization is contrary to this concept and destroyed many of the earlier gains. The establishment of the WHO had helped to strengthen global co-operation against diseases. The world nations pledged that they will work together to make primary health, drinking water and preventive health care measures available to every one of the world citizens. But the “new globalization” emerged as a formidable force that completely changed the democratic visions described above. A new brand of rightist economists came out with new formulas to overcome the economic recession in developed countries during the late 70s. This article examines the hazards inherent in the “new globalization” politics.
CONTESTING HEALING POWER AND KNOWLEDGE: HEALTH CARE IN KERALA’S PLURAL MEDICAL SYSTEM
The instrumentality of biomedicine in colonial empire has been the subject of many discussions. Western medicine or biomedicine was introduced in Travancore during the reign of Gowri Laxmi Bhai in 1811 when the British resident was very powerful. Of all the three major systems of medicine in Kerala, western medicine was the first to receive state patronage- even prior to the indigenous medical system of Ayurveda. Over the years biomedicine has developed rapidly to become the dominant medical system in Kerala. In the changing context of decentralized and localized development initiatives in Kerala, it is professed to salvage and resurrect sustainable local knowledge and resources. Therefore it is necessary to take a closer, critical and self-reflexive re-look at our health education, licensing practices of health care providers and drug policies with a historical appreciation.
WOMEN: THE PRESERVERS OF TRADITIONAL MEDICINE
P. G. LATHA AND S. RAJASEKHARAN
Medicinal plants form the largest segment of the biodiversity used by indigenous people. Traditionally, women are the providers of health care within the home. An important area of woman’s involvement in traditional medicine is in the area of antenatal and post-natal centre. Besides, they handle specialized areas like bone setting, eye disease management etc. Food and nutrition are important areas of women’s knowledge. Women also serve as conservers and cultivators of medicinal plants throughout the world. Education of women is important to create awareness of their rights and health care options. Woman are thus the healers of human suffering in much of the world.
WRITING/RIGHTING THE FEMALE MALADY
Hysteria is deemed as a woman’s malady. For centuries, it was believed to be a condition of woman’s illness in which the uterus was thought to be wandering. The attitude of society to madness in woman has a long history of male cruelty and woman’s humiliation. Both historians and psychologists have recorded an overrepresentation of women among the mentally ill in western countries., Till late in the nineteenth century hysteria was associated with nervous disorders in women . it was Sigmund Freud who redefined it as “psychic” rather than a neurological disease with sexual disturbance in its aetiology. He traced its cause in the unconscious. With this discovery, curative efforts began to include listening to the histories of these women who were made to talk out their past. Some of the best expressions of many women writers who have been victims of madness, has been stimulated by their condition. Some of the writers, especially those who were spokeswomen of women’s liberation, who did not suffer from any mental illness, have made mentally deranged women the central characters of their works. This article highlights some such literary representations.
A PIONEER IN MEDICINE- Dr. MARY POONEN LUKOSE
This article is a biographical sketch of Dr. Mary Poonen Lukose who contributed largely towards the development of health care activities in erstwhile Travancore. She is remarkable for her organizational capacity and relentless work which enabled her to achieve her ideals. She was instrumental for the establishment of the Nagercoil TB sanatorium and the X-Ray and Radium Institute in Thiruvananthapuram. She was the first native lady gynaecologist of Thiruvananthapuram, the first lady legislator and the first lady Surgeon General.
COOKING UP EQUALITY: PONGALA AT THE ATTUKAL TEMPLE
DIANNE E. JENNET
This article examines Attukal Pongala – a contemporary women’s offering to the goddess Bhagavati at Attukal Temple in Kerala, South India – and its practices, myths and rituals from the viewpoint of a researcher and the women who participate. Interviews with women representing a wide socio – economic, community and religious spectrum reveal pongala themes of the essential equality of all peoples and religions, the necessity to share life-sustaining resources, the power of women who demand justice, the support offered by women’s community and the recognition of immanent divinity in each girl and woman.
THE LANGUAGE OF SOCIAL REVOLUTION IN MOOTHIRINGODE’S APPHANTE MAKAL
A literary work becomes a very effective instrument of social change when the author has the motive to rebel against the social atrocities of a particular period. Such works play their role as messiahs by attracting a large number of people to follow their message. The latter half of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century are marked by the appearance of literary works which contributed a lot in awakening the Namboodiri community which was steeped in rigid orthodoxy. Moothiringode Bhavathrathan Namboothiripad who wrote the novel Apphante Makal was one of the social reformers. The work is representative of the social revolution that took place, since its main theme is the removal of conventionalism and orthodoxy. This article examines the language employed in the novel, which covertly signalled a social change.
BHAKTI AS A MOVEMENT OF LIBERATION
The tradition of Bhakti which crystallised in the 12th to 16th centuries in India has several distinct features which have been identified by scholars as stages of revolt against the existing social order. Unlike in the vedic upanishadic tradition dominated by the Brahmanic male voice, the Bhakti tradition represented the voice of the poor masses and was largely as a protest against the dominance of priests and rulers. It would however, be erroneous to see the Bhakti movement as exclusively the religion of the downtrodden and the oppressed. Devotional literature in India as elsewhere has been practiced by all sorts of men and women. The article focuses on the character of Mira’s Bhakti as its finds shape within the patriarchal assumptions of medieval Rajput states, prescriptive Brahmanic texts and the female devotional voices as it develops in early and contemporary positions of male bhaktas.
WHERE ARE WOMEN? WOMEN IN DEVELOPMENT PROCESS: THEORY AND PRACTICES IN INDIA
MIRA KAPIL DESAI
Women constitute half the world. Women have been prevented for a long time from being a part of the main stream society. At a point in time, they did not even exist or figured in the design of “Mankind”. The “visibility” of women is a recent story. As far as development processes are concerned. The role and doubt and the issue remains of what role is expected of her. This paper is divided into two parts. The first part deals with concepts of development, women in development, approaches to and impact of development on women. The second part illustrates the case of Indian women and examines how planning processes have affected women.
POSSIBILITIES IN ECOFEMINIST POLITICS FOR CONTEMPORARY KERALA: A NOTE FOR DISCUSSION
Ecofeminist thinking has been often associated with the struggles of people marginalized by modernizing development and instrumentalist reason, involving local, often non-western, value systems. Even though ecofeminists insist that ecofeminism necessarily resists incorporation into depoliticising developmental schemes, the influence it exerts on both particular proposals put forth by individual NGOs and radical environmental movements as well as in the rhetoric of the global developmental agencies, is undeniable. Ecofeminist thinking could develop a style feminist activism that may have a catalystic effect in raising issues which were hitherto insufficiently problematised by a progressive critique. It could act as a bridge between an over rationalistic style of feminist activism and radical theology. Ecofeminism can also engage with the ideology of womanly domesticity that lies at the heart of the modern project of producing individual subjects.
Samyukta Jan. 2003
EDUCATION FOR WOMEN – A PATHWAY FOR AN ENLIGHTENED SOCIETY
All over the world, struggles for women’s emancipation have given primacy to the role of education in achieving gender equality. That education is the most crucial instrument for economic and social empowerment of women is a fact, which hardly needs to be stressed. With ignorance and superstition being the greatest blocks to women’s emancipation, strong hope has been bestowed on education as a catalyst of change. With the constitution of India conferring equal rights on women and men in all spheres of social life, and also removing gender discrimination, access to educational opportunities, no doubt, improved. But the conferment of the right to equal opportunities did not really result in the removal of all those hurdles, which had hindered and continue to hinder a large number of women from making an effective use of opportunities for education.
WOMEN’S STUDIES IN HIGHER EDUCATION IN INDIA: SOME REFLECTIONS
PAM RAJPUT & MANVINDER KAUR
Women, for centuries have been excluded from the process of knowledge generation; their contributions to art, literature and science are, by and large, unrecognized, resulting in partial, even inaccurate, portrayal of their lives and concerns. Attention, for more than a quarter of a century now, has increasingly focused on bridging the existing knowledge gap, as well as critiquing the current social scenario and transforming it. Women’s studies emerged out of this felt need to reformulate the prevailing models of knowledge construction.
It is not easy to capsule in one brief essay the birth and growth of Women’s Studies in India, with its diversity and cultural plurality. The present paper seeks to chronicle the birth and progression of Women’s Studies during the last quarter of a century, capture the challenges and the innovations introduced by the ‘women’s studies beings’ and project issues and visions for the future.
ROYAL CONTRIBUTIONS TO EDUCATION IN TRAVANCORE
ASWATHI THIRUNAL GOURI LAKSHMI BAYI
Universal adult education is given much significance from the human rights perspective. This was fully accepted in theory and practical application in Malayala Nadu of the past and as a legacy bequeathed to modern Kerala. This article examines the contributions of the erstwhile ruling royal family to education in Kerala and focuses on their active involvement in the field of education. The policies implemented have definitely helped in increasing the status of education. Kerala is the first state in India to claim cent per cent literacy. The 1991 census of literacy rate here was a good indicator to the attainment of this coveted status. The literacy rate in Kerala was 90.6% as against an all India average of 52.2%. The female literacy in Kerala is 86.2% as compared to the all India ratio of 39.3%.
WOMEN’S EDUCATION IN NORTH INDIA IN THE COLONIAL PERIOD: A SURVEY
In the last quarter of the nineteenth century, in the region of Oudh, a woman’s education was considered to be of far less importance than her safety. There were a host of apprehensions about sending girls to school. The authorities found that each time a Headmistress retired or resigned, there would be a sudden drop in the number of girls attending the school. One of the major impediments in the setting up of a girls’ school was the lack of adequate female teachers. The government thus had a convenient excuse to avoid setting up schools for girls.
EDUCATION OF THE GIRL CHILD: POSSIBILITIES AND PROBLEMS
India has an early and rich tradition of education of women. The decline began with the rise of Brahamanical forces which imposed restrictions on women’s movements, denying them the right to education. Only with the introduction of modern education by the British in the nineteenth century, the possibilities of women receiving education opened up. In independent India, the debate on separate versus common curricula for both sexes was settled in favour of undifferentiated curricula. The existence of the gender gap in spite of the progress in education is surprising. Regional and group disparities are large. Gender cuts across all these layers making women and girls of the disadvantaged groups the most deprived members of our society.
WOMEN EMPOWERMENT THROUGH TECHNICAL EDUCATION
The call for a matching supply of technical manpower is a natural consequence in this world of rapid industrialization, liberalization and globalization. To achieve a sustainable development in any country, each member of the society has to be given equal opportunities, to unfold one’s inner potential. Since women constitute almost half the population, the healthy and harmonious growth and development of a nation would not be possible unless women are brought into the mainstream of the national development. According to India Country Report, making women equal partners in the national development processes and equipping them to make informed choices in order to actualize their self- worth through empowerment are goals to which the government is committed.
MANAGEMENT DEVELOPMENT FOR WOMEN
INDIRA J. PARIKH
This paper discusses five phases of evolution of the Indian women’s role in management, spanning five decades of 20th century and their transition into the new millennium. The first phase represented tentative beginnings, where woman entered the workplace the second where they struggled to break through the invisible barriers of promotions and senior positions, the third phase where the women competed for careers and opportunities in the organization, the fourth phase where the organization and the society saw the evolution of a mature career person. With ambitions and aspirations matching their male counterparts and the fifth phase was the confident and well anchored women of the new millennium.
MOVING BEYOND ACADEMICS: GOOD PRACTICES FOR WOMEN’S EMPOWERMENT
With greater awareness about human rights, the status of women in the society has been in focus for some decades now. National and international summits have been held to discuss the issues pertaining to women. Committees were set up to study and prepare reports on the status of women in India. Retrograde social customs like sati, child marriage, dowry, social boycott of widows etc. make women experience several accumulated disadvantages. Women face not only gender discrimination of various degrees and types at different levels, but also suffer the most from sexual harassment, atrocities and crimes. All these coupled with low female literacy rate, make the role of education as an agent of social change very challenging.
WOMEN STUDIES CENTRES: A VITAL TOOL IN WOMEN’S DEVELOPMENT
K. SUDHA RAO AND ARTI CHATRAPATHI
The civil rights movements led to formation of black studies and ethnic studies, and the student’s movement in 1960s that demanded fundamental changes in the academic curricula and created a foothold for women’s studies in the United States of America. Women’s studies today is considered an established branch of study in the universities having full-fledged academic faculty and has developed voluminous study materials and knowledge pertaining to this field. Not only has it survived as a special branch of study, but also, legitimized its presence in the educational system of western world. However, in the Asian region only recently it emerged from within the academic, inspired by UN sponsored women’s decade.
GENDER POLITICS AND THE URDU GHAZAL: EXPLORATORY OBSERVATIONS ON REKHTA Vs. REKHTI
This article examines the gender politics in the tradition of the Urdu ghazal and provides certain significant observations regarding the same. It brings to light the existence of a sub-genre of urdu poetry, called rekhti, which is said to be the popular rekhta’ s counterpart. This is a genre of poetry in which the male poet speaks in the role of a woman. Rekhti, manifesting a grammatically feminine narrator serve to shed light on problematic gender politics within the world of Urdu culture, something, of which both ghazal/ film song aficionados and scholars remain largely unaware.
INVISIBLE BODIES: ANDAL, BHAKTI, AND THE LANGUAGUE OF POETIC DISCOURSE
USHA V. T.
Reading and re-reading from multiple stances has been the prerogative of much of present post-colonial and/or feminist discourse. While plurality and marginalityare conceptual terms that make an attempt to account for and accommodate what was once the periphery within the centre, the actual cultural situation leaves much to be desired. Even when the existing linguistic and socio-cultural borders lose their significance/relevance, newer systems of marginalization come into the foreground.
TRANSFORMING NATURE IN ART
“Art imitates Nature” is an oft-quoted statement, which is agreed upon by appreciators of fine art, both in India and the West. This seemingly simple statement carries a host of complex connotations, which a true lover of art is duty-bound to interpret. An attempt is made here to re-interpret the concept of “imitation” in art, which in Sanskrit is referred to as anukrti and in the West is called “mimesis” and to bring out the inherent paradox that exists within these terms.
INDIA AND HER WOMEN
In the narrative of the Indian nation state, women are absences that convey hidden histories. They are targets and are mere markers in politically tenuous games but though subaltern, they have learned to manipulate the system. Their stories have acquired a content and setting too. Yet violence often displaces mind and geography. This article explores both the freedom of the exile offered by spaces which offer possibilities of multiple coalitions and the restricted land locked geographies that cannot offer protection. Stories that bring visibility and articulate subject positions need to be listened to, be it the poems of Imitiaz Dharker, the novels of Shashi Deshpande, the short stories of Lalithambika Antharjanam, the documentary of Bisakha Datta or the heart breaking reality of the tales of the women of Kashmir.
CELEBRATION OF SURVIVAL: NORTH AMERICAN FIRST NATIONS WOMEN’S POETRY
The article attempts to explore the different connotations of meeting that first nation people of North America and Canada associate with words like “survival” and “frontier”. Poetry is, in most cases the chosen medium of expression of the first nation’s women writers. Their poetry is moreover mooted in their complex beliefs and myths which have been under constant threat by the attempts of the colonizers to make their way to “progress” smooth. The first nations women poets have to combat silencing, to celebrate positive aspects of first nations culture and to prepare their people to overcome the obstacles to survival. The article makes a survey of the more important of first nation women poets like Shawa Lynn Danielle, Jeanetta Colhouns, Mercy Rendon, Sky Blue Mary Morin, Charlotte Nahbexie etc.
Samyukta Jan. 2004
THEORIZING ABOUT THEORY
The essay examines interiorization, a mode of textual exploration, which through a hermeneutical process enables us to effect entry into the interior of those literary works that, through word, sentence and metrical line, render palpable the bhava-artha-rasa born of imagination or real experience. In literary works the author incorporates bhava-artha-rasa in different ways. The term sannivesha is a method is used here in a special technical sense. What is meant by sannivesha is a method of incorporating bhava, the author’s emotion, artha, the text’s meaning, and rasa, the reader’s aesthetic savouring either explicitly or implicitly by constructing linguistic units – letters, sounds, words and sentences. Sannivesha or placement can be of various kinds. Uparisannivesha or bahya–sannivesha can be explained as exteriorization. The process of turning from the outer to the inner may be termed antasannivesha or interiorization.
DEFIANT DEVIANCES: ARUNDHATI ROY’S THE GOD OF SMALL THINGS
This article is a stylistic analysis of Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things which attempts to assess the nature and incidence of linguistic deviations in Roy’s use of literary language, and also to determine their special effects in the context of her narrative style. Liberating herself from the fetters of conventional thinking and writing, Roy shows remarkable talent in the invention of a new idiom and vocabulary. The study of the linguistic deviations and parallelisms in the novel highlights the different ways in which the author has surpassed the normal creative resources of the English language. The diversity of techniques used by Roy may not find many parallels in the world of fiction.
‘THE THING’ SPEAKS
Women’s reading and artistic appreciation shows that the distance between artistic truth and actual truth is frighteningly huge. Patriarchal art generates its aesthetics and standards by distorting and suppressing the reality of women’s lives. Patriarchal art maintains that beauty is in subduing/concealing. Art, literature and films are all engaged in the construction of this ideology. Changing the authority of judgement from patriarchal art to matriarchal art is no solution for this; the solution lies in the construction of an ideology of artistry that can remove the gulf between truth and untruth and bridge the distance between art and non-art.
Dealing with ecological crises brings forth many questions in terms of cultural, political and economic manifestations. Concerns of ecofeminism vary from the obvious connection between patriarchy and the subjugation of women and nature to a sustainable economy that is eco-women-centric. Ecofeminism also offers certain positions from where one can work towards a shift in power positions. This paper attempts to problematise ecofeminist spirituality. Spirituality within the parameters of ecofeminism has diverse stances. Whether and how ecofeminist spirituality deviates from the mainstream spirituality will be answered indirectly in the course of the paper.
HIGHER EDUCATION OF WOMEN IN THE ERA OF GLOBALIZATION AND PRIVATIZATION: AN ENQUIRY INTO THE CHANGING POLICIES OF EDUCATION
The General Agreement in Trade in Services (GATS), aim at promoting international trade in health and education. With reference to education, it encourages private enterprise and allows foreign universities/ institutions to enter the Indian educational market either by scouting for students or by establishing bilateral tie-ups with local institutions. These measures are followed by cutbacks on state spending on education. This paper examines the implications of these developments for women’s access to higher education. The critical questions raised are as follows: what are the implications of rising educational costs for the realization of gender equality in the country? The reason for this woman-centred enquiry is because gender is an important determinant of entitlements and allocations of resources in the family and the community.
Samyukta July 2004
CENSUS 2001: FINAL STATISTICS FOR THE STATE-HEALTHY TRENDS
The article examines the rate of growth of population, marital status of females, fertility levels and trends of sex ration in the state of Kerala. The major factors that determine the growth of population, such as education and economic status are examined.
DEMOGRAPHIC TRANSITION AND WOMEN’S EMPOWERMENT IN KERALA: NEW EVIDENCE
K. S. JAMES
The objective of this paper is to find out whether there exists an apparent contradiction with regard to high female literacy level and other indicators of women’s position in the state of Kerala. An important question to be answered through this analysis is the link between women’s position variables and the demographic achievement of the state. We will primarily depend on NFHS data for the analysis. The paper is divided mainly into three sections. The first section analyses the demographic achievement of Kerala and the second section is on the women’s position variables. The third section discusses the relationship between demographic and women’s position variables in the state and its possible implications for other states in India as well.
GULF EMIGRATION OF WOMEN IN KERALA
K. C. ZACHARIAH AND S. IRUDAYA RAJAN
Female emigration is very culture specific and it is not very common in Kerala. This paper attempts to put together the information collected on female emigration from Kerala in two recent studies. During 1999-2004, the percent increase in emigration was 124 percent among females but just 24 percent among males. The proportion of female emigrants varies considerably by religion and by district of origin. Christian emigrants include the largest proportion of women, 32 percent, while Muslim emigrants recorded the lowest proportion of women, just 8 percent. About 45 percent of the female emigrants were degree holders. If current trends in ageing continue as predicted, the proportions of the young and the old will undergo a historic crossover around 2021.
LABOUR FORCE IN INDIA: THE GENDER GAP
G. K. MOLI
The paper attempts to study the changes in the labour force in India during the last few decades. The participation of women in economic activity in rural and urban areas is also subjected to analysis. The paper concludes with suggestions for enhancing for women’s work participation rate.
GENDER, AGEING AND SOCIETY SECURITY
S. IRUDAYA RAJAN AND SABU ALIYAR
The first part of this paper discusses the emerging profile of the elderly in Kerala for the next fifty years based on the projections done by the authors, followed by the authors, followed by the micro analysis of elderly living conditions from the recent migration survey conducted by the Centre for Development Studies. The last section overviews the existing social security program for the elderly. Close to 15 percent of the elderly in Kerala from the creamy layer of senior citizens who are not looking for any assistant from the Kerala government. Even at the age of 80, 10 percent of the elderly continue to work. The paper outline the fact that if the government can implement all the schemes very seriously and provide assistance to the social assistance schemes without much financial constraints.
MARKETING THE NATION HINDU AND OUTSIDE HINDU: TRIBE IN THE EARLY CENSUS REPORTS
K. C. BINDU
The paper argues that the concept of the tribe is modern. It is a term coined during colonial rule. The history of constructing the tribe in India has both colonial and indigenous roots. Colonialism is important in the construction of all modern identities and the case of the tribe is no different. The census is seen as a discourse that defines, constructs, connects and differentiates categories. The paper concludes with the assertion of the difficulty of defining both ‘Hindu’ and the ‘tribe’.
WOMAN AS BODY
‘Woman as Body’ interrogates the body/mind divide in all western thinking and the hierarchical binaries relegating the body to the female and the mind to the male. The subversion of this traditional hierarchy is effected in feminist theory by the valorization of the female body, the demystification of the phallus and the deconstruction of heterosexuality as the norm. Issues of racism and subalternity are seen to make women’s bodies a site for exploitation and oppression whereas gender theories that deny the materiality of the body are seen as alienating women from their bodies and issues related to oppression.
POLLUTING PONKAALA PREMISES: AN ECOFEMINIST READING OF NARABALI, AADAVUM DAIVAVUM AND NAGA MANDALA
K. VAMANAN NAMPOOTHIRI
The article attempts to read a ritual and three literary works relating the socio- religion institution of sacrifice and the recently evolved/ evolving literary critical practice of ecological feminism. The texts analyzed here – the ritual ponkaala and three literary works – contain the motif of the male intrusion into female space/ the subversion of the female power of/right to fecundity. Discussion of the term ‘pro-worldly asceticism’ much favoured by deep ecology and ecofeminism is done in relation to Vishnunarayanan Namboothiri’s ‘Aadavum Daivavum.’ Girish Karnad’s Naga Mandala also lends room for reading an ecological feminist act of subversion. The analysis of the ponkaala rite, the two poems, ‘Narabali’ and ‘Aadavum Daivavum,; and the drama, Naga Mandala shows that mankind, in varying degree and kind, pollute/defile womankind’s fertility surges. For the preparation of this paper the writer is indebted to UGC for the sanction accorded to the minor research project on Ecoaesthetics.
OBSERVATIONS ON MOTHER – DAUGHTER RELATIONSHIP IN MARATHI FICTION
The article attempts to analyse the intricacies of the mother – daughter relationship in the fiction of prominent Marathi women writers. Depiction of mother and daughters in the fiction of Vibhavari Shirukar, Kamal Desai, Gauri Deshpande and Saniya are discussed in the article that affirms that pre natal ties will remain unaltered.
GENDER AS POLITICAL CONSTRUCT: THE PHOOLAN DEVI EXPERIENCE – LADHA BARATHAN
Phoolan devi has been proclaimed a perpetrator of crime and violence and hence declaimed by the masses in India. An interesting fact is her establishment as a favourite cult figure and her deification as a reincarnation of Durga and Shakti. This paper argues that Phoolan Devi can be viewed only as a victim of gender discrimination interlocked with caste oppression and sexual abuse. Aspects of gender and caste are discussed, not based on any theoretical stand but from a perspective based on her autobiography I, Phoolan Devi.
Samyukta Jan. 2005
Vol. V No. 1
GENDER AND DEVELOPMENT DEBATES: A CASE STUDY OF INDIA
Gendering of Public Policies in pre & post 1975 India has had a major bearing on the development debates that began with critique of trickle down theory in the sixties, ‘marginalisation of women’ – WAD Approach in the eighties and Gender and Development approach in the nineties and ‘Empowerment of women’ approach in the millennium era. These theoretical positions reflected invisibility of women in the mainstream discourse-planning process, budgetary allocations, analysis of new economic policy in the early nineties, reservation policy, environment policy, housing policy, anti-poverty programmes, disaster management policy, media policy, legal reforms and judicial activism. States in which women’s studies and women’s movement are influential and articulate, we find effective engendering of state policies. Interstate comparison in the women empowerment discourse through Human Development Reports and in the publications of Department of Women and Child Development, Government of India have created urge among sensitive administrators, politicians and NGOs to make concerted efforts to improve women’s profile in the economic, social-cultural and political spheres.
BUILDING CAPABILITIES IN WOMEN: THE HUMAN DEVELOPMENT PERSPECTIVE
The paper is an attempt to examine the well-being of women in the Indian context from the human development perspective. Implicit in the concept of improving the quality of life is an egalitarian society. it defines well- being from the Human Development perspective as ‘building capabilities’ in women to be able to take their own decisions and be able to do and be what they want to do and be. The paper examines the two approaches—the direct economic approach which aims to build capabilities in women by increasing their earning power and the more indirect non-economic approach focusing on education and political empowerment— which have been adopted in India to achieve well-being.
THE MATERIAL IMPACT OF ECONOMIC GLOBALISATION ON WOMEN: EXPLODING A FEW MYTHS
In India, in the past decade there has been considerable debate over the limits and possibilities of economic globalization and opinions have been divided between diverse projections on the outcomes and the differential impacts of such neo liberal economic ‘reform’. Opinions have also been sharply polarized regarding the gender implications of such reforms. The paper examines the impact of such globalization on women, both as producers as well as consumers. Special focus is laid on how it affects women as workers. ‘New economy’ proponents like the World Bank adopt a market-oriented approach to gender equality. A fatal flaw in such an approach is that it relegates women to the gray zone of ‘weaker sections’ eligible for ‘safety nets’ from the charitable coffers of the state. While it would be a grave mistake to study the implications of neo-liberal economic ‘reform’ for women in isolation, the entire area of macro economic strategy needs to be evaluated in terms of its impact on the economy, culture and society but with a perspective that is sensitive to the reality of women’s needs and conditions.
DEBT TO WOMEN CONCEPT: REFLECTIONS ON A JUST AND CARING ECONOMY, ALTERNATIVES TO GLOBALISATION
Globalization and the implementation of structural adjustment policies have resulted in an escalation of worldwide poverty which is felt most acutely by women. Globalization has thus contributed to further subordination of women. Economic globalization has brought new kinds of businesses, opportunities, and a better life for many. It also has resulted in increasing misery for others. Intensive global competition and economic mandates often demand sacrifices from those least able to afford them. The only way to adopt a global economics, in which everyone benefits, is to begin by unconditionally rejecting market economics, with its divisive and separative underlying philosophy. There has to be a complete about turn in economic thinking by world leaders and those holding world positions of political and economic responsibility including church leaders.
MORE THAN FAIR TRADE: REFLECTIONS ON JUST SUSTAINABLE AND CARING GLOBAL TRADE FOR DEVELOPMENT OF WOMEN
SUZANNE MEMBE MATALE
Globalization with its resultant trade agreements and other global conventions have not benefited nor liberalized nor even improved the situation of people and women in particular, in the Sub-Saharan Africa. At best even the Government who are ratifiers of these agreement and conventions are rendered powerless when it comes to negotiating favourable terms and conditions for the developing countries which would lead them to development and prosperity so that all people can live a good life. In spite of all the supposedly ‘good intentions’ for the economic growth of the world and the developing world in particular, the methods and systems of achieving these intensions have, however, worked to the detriment of the African people. These ‘good intensions’ have injured the dignity of the African people especially the women and children. FDI has indirectly brought with it hidden negative impacts on the lives of women and the girl children in Africa. Women are viewed by foreign investors as a source of cheap labour which is docile and will not create problems and less likely to become trade union activists. They are also viewed as sex objects.
DIFFERENTIAL DEVELOPMENT OF WOMEN IN KERALA AND ANDHRA PRADESH: NEED FOR DECENTERALIZED EMPOWERMENT POLICY
Unlike Kerala which is the most developed Indian State in terms of universal literacy, women’s literacy and education, infrastructural development, least infant and maternal mortality and overall quality of life, Andhra Pradesh is only still developing are several parameters of development are at the bottom among the southern states in India. Female illiteracy in Andhra Pradesh is the highest in South India, Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) is equally high and women’s development continues to lag behind. This paper will study the differential development of women in Kerala and Andhra Pradesh on a comparative basis and examine the need for a decentralized women’s empowerment policy. The paper also highlights the future thrust areas for women’s development and empowerment.
GENDER EQUALITY AND MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS
KAMAYANI BALI MAHABAL
The Millennium Development Goals explicitly acknowledge that gender roles can have a major impact on development, helping to promote it in some cases while seriously retarding it in others. MDG number 3 (out of 8) is specifically about gender, calling for an end to disparities between boys and girls at all levels of education. Education is vital to development, and ensuring that girls as well as boys have full opportunities for schooling will help improve lives in countless ways. Men and women participate in nearly every aspects of life in communities throughout the world and women in a given society— have the potential to impact nearly every aspect of life. Therefore, while only one of the MDGs is specifically about gender, addressing gender is of critical importance to every MDG.
IN DEMAND IN A GLOBALISED WORLD: WOMEN HOME BASED WORKERS
There is an increase in women’s labour force participation in urban and rural areas of India, especially, the non-farm or non-agricultural activities. The increase in women workers is also seen in the manufacturing sector, especially manufacturing for export. The purpose of this paper is to focus on the characteristics of the labour process in home-based production in India, using the example of women workers in a rural non-farm industry: the beedi industry in south Tamil Nadu. In doing so, the argument underlines the aspect about homebased production processes that is attractive for employers, who wish to succeed in global manufacture. The discussion will also explore the complexities of the labour process situated within the home, where despite economic returns into the household, the ideology of a non-worker, spare-time earner, and that of supplementary income continues to prevail. Further, it highlights the dynamics of the labour process where the burden of production is passed onto others, and women take on more work that is detrimental to their health.
RIGHT TO SHELTER AND DEVELOPMENT FOR WOMEN
Slum rehabilitation with the participation of the state, private capital and slum dwellers has become the norm in large cities like Mumbai, where land is scarce and very valuable. Slum rehabilitation schemes that involve resettling slum dwellers in tenements built by private builders who in turn receive development rights elsewhere in the city have been hailed as excellent solutions that resolve the issue of housing for the poor, even while allowing private builders to make profits. However, none of these schemes are based on recognition of the right to shelter. Women spend a large part of their lives, if not their entire live in and around the house. Hence, the house and neighbourhood is not only a place to live in, but also a place to socialize, to earn a living, to seek opportunities for education and training facilities and transportation, women’s expectations from housing differ radically from men. However, none of these find expression in the policies, plan or laws relating to slum rehabilitation.
WOMEN’S EMPOWERMENT AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT THROUGH SELF HELP GROUPS: A TALE OF SELECT STATES OF INDIA
Self Help Groups (SHGs) are a blend of nongovernmental organizations and group of individuals organized together for tackling problems such as unemployment, medical issues, water shed management and livelihood generation. SHG formations largely include women as they are considered to be more credit worthy than men. While globalization poses great threats to employment and livelihoods, making globalization work for the world’s poor is the greatest moral challenge to our generation. In this context, it is worthwhile to analyse SHG activities which facilitated with the help of micro credit in attaining sustainable growth through empowerment in various states of India.
POVERTY, AIDS AND THE STRUGGLE OF WOMEN TO LIVE
The HIV/AIDS- infected people are still the most marginalized section of society. It is necessary to raise society’s awareness about the connection between the feminization of global poverty and the socio-economic and religious dimension of AIDS. Women are increasingly bearing the burden of the epidemic, especially the poor women. By and large, who must wrestle with this grave danger, and impoverished parents are forced to sell their daughters into commercial sex work. It is imperative to end the silence of stigma, denial and fear about AIDS and embrace in a practical way those who have become victims of our apathy and ignorance. As feminists, what we share in common is the quest for grater solidarity, love and justice for the most marginalized people of our communities. When we see lives that are exploited in the name of the market economy, we must cooperate to make changes and seek alternatives for those who suffer from economic exploitation and oppression.
CHANGING FACES OF PATRIARCHY, WOMEN AND FAMILY IN INDIA
J. P. SINGH
The conventional large patriarchal family is now a statistical minority. The number of fissioned family is on rise and the size of traditional joint or extended families has become gradually smaller. Kin marriages are becomimg less and less common. There is a general trend towards the free choice of a spouse in cities. New emerging demographic scenario provides the most impressive and crucial confirmation of change. Changes that have surfaced are the outcome of interplay of various factors and forces at work such as the rising pressure of population, westernisation, spread of urban-industrial ethos, secularization of occupations and modernization. The paper examines the position of the woman within the Indian family which is in a state of transition from a consanguinity orientation to a conjugal orientation.
SEX OF KNOWING: TOWARDS REVITALIZING EPISTEMOLOGY
SREEKALA M. NAIR
This paper addresses at a general level the role of feminism in revitalizing epistemology. This is hoped to be achieved neither by understanding feminism as a separate and distinctive branch of philosophy, nor by arguing for the ability of feminist philosophy to replace philosophy. It is rather by vitalizing from inside, by enlarging the scope of epistemology that feminism is envisaged to play a significant role in philosophy.
Samyukta July. 2005
Vol. V No. 2
CHALLENGES BEFORE WOMEN’S MOVEMENT IN A CHANGING CONTEXT
Communalism, the actual and possible effects of economic reforms on women’s position, and the rising violence in our society have become problematic issues for the women’s movement. Many of these developments have roots in the past while some are new emanations. Feminist response to these issues has been more in the form of a generalised anxiety rather than clear analysis and understanding of the nature of our polity and changes therein; the nature of economic reforms and how they have been carried out; policy shifts in many areas and their impact on different sections of women; and importantly, where the movement’s energies should be spent. Past strategies have reached a dead end and recourse to legal remedies is not sufficient to bring about changes in the entrenched attitudes and values in society. Where does one go from here?
HOW AUTONOMOUS IS THE AUTONOMOUS WOMEN’S MOVEMENT?
Autonomy in a feminist analysis of the term suggests freedom from patriarchal control within the family and society; for this reason struggles against existing inequalities within the family have been a central plank of women’s demands for autonomy which, in turn, has been the inspiration behind the push for legal reform. The drive towards autonomy which became a way of defining a certain stage in the women’s movement has been perceived as a central motif of the movement. The imperative was a perceived need by feminists to break away from established political formations including left and democratic political groups with their entrenched isms, which were often interpreted by unimaginative and mechanical readings of the ‘great’ texts and the ‘truths’ represented in them. Acceptance of feminist analyses into the analytical framework of existing theories, including dominant articulations of Marxism, is yet to be seen. The paper discusses important questions such as the viability and survival of AWGs (Autonomous Women’s Groups) as truly autonomous forces. Difficulty in securing funds have led these groups into making compromises, leading to a self willed erosion of their original position on autonomy. It is however an optimistic thought that campaigning against the violence of patriarchal practices has not reached an impasse.
INSTITUTIONALISING FEMINIST AGENDA(S)
The practices of Women’s Movement are continually being transformed to meet new challenges. Yet feminist politics is constantly confronted with skepticism against institutionalized politics; it displays an uneasiness with the forms of power that dominate political processes. Similarly the politics of mainstreamimg Women’s Studies implies that feminist scholarship has had to cope with the complex wed of relationships within academia dominated by a patriarchal academy and knowledge hierarchy. But as this paper explains, while institutional locations may also form their own sites of contest, the need for a renewed and sustained struggle from such locations, employing new interventions in the hope of transforming institutions, remains of crucial importance for the Women’s Movement.
AN INTERACTIVE SPACE FOR FEMINISMS
NANDITA GANDHI AND NANDITA SHAH
The Feminist Dialogue (FD) opened up a space and successfully drew in diverse women and views; but it was not a totally open space without boundaries. Women could participate only after they had been selected. The discussions could have led to an understanding of feminism and campaign of women’s groups. But this did not wholly materialise. The opportunity to invite women from other movements, forge links and discuss joint strategies was missed in the hastily put together Plenary. A discussion of our strategy in relation to WSF and the spaces that the new format had created for a feminist intervention was absent. The FD needs to reinvent itself as a process, the dialogue need to be continued on the Internet supported by theoretical inputs and campaigns. The organizers and consultative group must bring in constructive criticism on the planning, structure, content and implementation in the form of papers for discussion at preparatory meetings.
THE WOMEN’S MOVEMENT: BETWEEN AUTONOMY AND ALLIANCE-BUILDING
The various women’s movements have made significant contributions in two fields: in intervening to support women during communal riots and in rethinking religions and recapturing meaning in them. Two issues need to be more empathetically addresses in the Women’s Movement; one is the organizational question, since how one builds or relates to mass organizations is crucial. The women’s movement has not invested much thought in understanding that there are a variety of ‘internal colonies,’ such as dalits, adivasis, poor peasants, workers in the informal sector and indeed, women whose situation deteriorates under globalization. The contention of this paper is that these internal colonies need to ally with each other in order to gain the strength to overcome their oppressive and exploitative situations. Basic feminist issues like women’s participation in decision-making, sexual harassment, domestic violence, alcoholism, etc. seem always left to the women’s movement to deal with. This raises another important issue, namely that of inventing a comprehensively non-violent lifestyle in the face of globalization as external onslaught, and the communalism of politics as internal onslaught.
THE DISSENTING FEMINIST VOICE IN A GLOBALISED MARKETPLACE
The paper examines the status of the dissenting feminist voice in a globalised world, especially that of media and book publishing. The vicious circle of exclusion of Women’s writing on account of language, culture and gender continues. Women’s writing is a casualty of the subterranean literary crisis developed as a result of the virtual disappearance of cross-language translation and the public library system. Women who live in India and write for domestic readers often get short shrift in terms of publicity and monetary rewards. The paper highlights these issues and discusses the biggest hurdle women writers face, namely, the market, which has become monopolized by mainstream publishing houses. With the women’s movement having moved into another phase and become mainstreamed and institutionalised, the position of the marginalised voices including that of women and their efforts to find a space from where they can sound themselves merit serious reflection.
MORE THAN JUST TRACKING WOMEN ON TO THE ‘MACROPICTURE’: FEMINIST CONTRIBUTIONS TO GLOBALISATION DISCOURSE
This paper maps three discrete and overlapping feminist perspectives on globalization, locating their theoretical genealogies and legacies in development studies, Third World/transactional studies and post-Communism transitology studies. It underlines the prominent discourses of globalization which in outlining the econo-techno and institutional processes as having a pervasive if uneven impact, treat them as gender neutral. The paper argues that a mode of relational analysis, which makes feminist contributions distinctive, helps to make connections and trace the naturalized assumptions in the debate on globalization. It suggests that engendering the discourse of globalization entails more than simply tracking women on to macrostructural models of globalization.
MOVING THE MEDIA AGENDA
The very fact that the contemporary Indian women’s movement has been around and active for nearly a quarter of a century and that the media have been responding to its activities, as well as to the information and insights it has made available has meant that these issues have been ‘in the air’ for at least a couple of decades. As a result, over the past 25 years or so, they have seeped into public consciousness and found fresh life in different, often unexpected, shapes and forms which, in turn, have served to spread awareness farther and wider.
Though the women’s movement tends to make less news now that it did in the early days when it was more obviously active in the public arena, it continues to have an impact on the media. It generates knowledge and understanding that help to shape editorial views, and it has entered the consciousness and influenced the perceptions of atleast two generations of media professionals, especially but not only women.
THIRTY YEARS ON: WOMEN’S STUDIES REFLECTS ON THE WOMEN’S MOVEMENT
The women’s movement has with varying degree of success negotiated with the changing socio-political contexts in India. However, change is slow and painful and the lives of a large section of Indian women have only marginally improved. The contemporary Indian Women’s Movement is still accused of being westernized and unIndian. An important task for the movement thus is to vocally locate the feminist struggle in its diverse Indian cultural and historical settings. It is also imperative that the women’s movement begins the task of recreating spaces and building bridges so that its various fragments can once again be fitted into the larger jigsaw.
Samyukta January. 2006
Vol. VI No. 1
HISTORY OF EDUCATION OF WOMEN IN KERALA 1819-1947
Kerala is one of the states lying in the south-western part of India. One of the most prominent features of t he social history of 19th century Kerala was the revival of education among women. This revival is inseparably linked to the political, socio-economic and religious conditions that prevailed before, especially in the 18th and 19th centuries, will be useful for a better understanding of the context of educational reforms among women.
A FRESH LOOK AT THE ATHARVA VEDA– RATI SAXENA’S ‘THE SEEDS OF THE MIND’
The Vedas are the oldest repository of mankind’s understanding of the mysteries of the universe and house several branches of enquiry, investigation and application of its principles. A study of the Vedas explains how the cosmos came into being, according to the rishis or seer-scientists who discerned the secrets of nature several centuries ago. It illustrates their methodology of exploration, investigation and application of the forces which propel and regulate various natural phenomena.
LOVE SONGS IN THE ATHARVA VEDA
Love includes physical and mental feelings. It is true that emotional responses is a characteristic of human being alone. Though the human race cannot exist without physical love. So the best form of love is a good combination of physical and emotional relationship. That is what we see in most love songs in the folk tradition. However, in the traditional or conventional reading of these songs, there has been an attempt on the part of the so-called elitist scholars and academics to ignore this aspect and concentrate on the purely emotional aspects. It is in this light that we now read and analyse the love songs in the Vedas. Contrary to the popular assumption that VCedas are not connected to everday life in this world, we have to look at them as total expressions of human reality, instead of isolating the spiritual or the metaphysical.
THE HIDDEN SIDE OF GROUP BEHAVIOUR: A GENDER ANALYSIS OF COMMUNITY FORESTRY IN SOUTH ASIA
Community forestry groups, managing State or community-owned forest resources, represent one of the most rapidly growing forms of collective action in the developing world. They thus provide an especially useful study in how groups function. The South Asian experience illuminates how such groups, ostensibly set up to operate on principles of cooperation, and meant to involve and benefit all members of the rural community, often effectively exclude significant sections, such as women. While seemingly participatory, equitable and efficient, they cloak substantial gender-related inequities and inefficiencies. The paper also analyses what underlines such unfavourable outcomes and how the outcomes could be improved.
MOTHERS IN A CONFLICT – RIDDEN ‘HER LAND’: THE MOTHERS OF MAYADIIP BY SUNITI NAMJOSHI
K. S. VAISHALI
The Mother of Maya Diip(1989) appeals to an assortment of our comic sensibilities – the satiric, the whimsical, the sardonic, the rousing belly laugh— all in the interest of exposing the absurdities of accepted pieties, particularly in the context of an essentialist reification of women’s roles as ‘Mothers’. By re-describing patriarchal in terms of the concept of the inhabitants of Maya Diip who are unfamiliar with the heterosexual patriarchy, Namjoshi reveals the reproductive power politics of our societies through the strategy of defamiliarization. She exposes the mental and physical constraints that the ideology of feminity imposes on all women. What would happen if women refuse to be the silent bearers of meaning, step out of their traditional functions? Namjoshi speculates about radical possibilities. She questions the centrality of dominant heterosexist ideologies and refutes the ‘closure’ they represent by subverting them and exposing their spurious complacency.
PATRIARCHY IN PUNJAB: DOCUMENTING THE NARRATIVES OF WOMEN FROM THREE GENERATIONS OF JAT SIKH FAMILIES OF PUNJAB
MANVINDER KAUR AND AMEER SULTANA
This paper documents case studies of three generations of Punjabi women and seeks to look into the structural framework of patriarchy, i.e. the nature and extent of women’s subordination, among Jat Sikh families of the Malwa region of Punjab to assess, whether and how patriarchy has changed its form over the years.
Samyukta July. 2006
Vol. VI No. 2
ASIAN WOMEN IN INTERNATIONAL MIGRATION
Asian labor migration has undergone some major and dramatic changes since the early eighties. Overall, geographic mobility within Asia has increased enormously and the population flow levels of Asia are amongst the highest in the world. More specifically, the very model of migrant choice appears to have fundamentally changed. My goal in this paper is to link some of the macro level changes to insights derived from my micro level case studies of the lives of migrant workers.
Before discussing the characteristics of the intra continental migratory movements in Asia that sets it apart from migration elsewhere, I flag two interesting features of these migratory patterns that have emerged in recent years. One is the direction of movement of migrant workers and the other is the presence of women in these movements. Action at the international level may also be called for with respect to working conditions for overseas women workers in general. For women in domestic service or entertainment industry international attention is necessary on a priority basis. As things stand, these workers enjoy no protection from the local labor laws as several of these laws specifically exclude domestic servants and choose to be totally silent on those in entertainment business. As a first step, therefore, the extension of the local labor laws in the labor importing countries to cover domestic and entertainment workers may have to be campaigned for. The problem of domestic and entertainment workers illegally hired and whose employment is sought to be hidden from local authorities in the labor importing countries is a matter of willful violation of law by the employer and has to be dealt with accordingly by such countries. The important thing to ensure internationally is that the overseas domestic or entertainment worker is given due protection.
GLOBALIZATION AND TRAFFICKING OF WOMEN AND CHILDREN
One of the major problems of recent times after globalization is the alarming proportion of trafficking of women and children for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation. Trafficking is one of the worst forms of human rights violation. Adolescent girls from marginalized families are the most vulnerable. In today’s world hundreds of women and children are trafficked in the name of jobs, domestic work, films role or marriage with a dream of a better life. Today trafficking generates more money than even arms trade or drugs trade. Young girls in any society are the wealth and the future women who need nurturing and protection and hence we need to wake up to this issue and take it with all the seriousness it deserves. Trafficking in women and children has severely negative consequences for the women and societies involved. It is an issue that involves both gender and basic human rights abuses.
WOMEN WORKERS IN TEXTILE INDUSTRY
This article studies the employment of women in the textile industry of India. It examines the patterns of women’s employment in both the organised and unorganised sector of this industry. The textile industry offers a valuable case study to study the extent of male-female wage differentials, gender-based division of labour and also the impact of affirmative action on employment of women.
In the textile mills of Mumbai, women formed a quarter of the workforce in the 1850s, 22.9 percent in the 1930s, 11.17 percent in the 1950s and a mere 1.1 percent in 2002. The low Workforce Participation Rate for women in the mills has been primarily due to two reasons. The first and most important reason is the strict gender-based division of labour. The other reason is the prohibition of women from working in the night shift.
Even in the unorganised powerloom sector, WPR for women is very low, a mere 4 percent of the total workforce. Here too, there is a clear division of labour on the basis of gender. Women are confined to the lowest paying jobs and labour laws are openly flouted in the unorganised powerlooms sector, with women enjoying none of the social security benefits due to them.
CONTEMPORARY WOMEN AND POLITICAL PARTICIPATION IN INDIA
GAYATHRI. N. LOKHANDE
The hallmark of Indian constitution is that it guarantees the fundamental principles of popular sovereignty, adult franchise, right to equality and prohibition of discrimination on the basis of caste, creed, community, religion and social justice thus ensuring dignity of individual, unity and integration of the nation and the success of representative democracy.
In spite of the existence of laws guaranteeing non-discrimination, gender inequality still persists in India and women’s political participation and representation in legislative bodies is very low. This is largely due to cultural and structural barriers. It is crucial for political reform to mobilise women as vibrant agents in legislative bodies. This paper examines the viability of a strategy that will help women to overcome obstacles responsible for their under-representation and ensure sustainable development in all spheres of life.
The analytical study is based on empirical views drawn from feminist, national, international and non-governmental organizations and media. All aspects of political participation – the status of women during pre- and post- independence periods, the obstacles that prevent women from participation, political empowerment measures at the grass root level and the proposed legislation on Women’s Reservation Bill- are analyzed in detail.
A NARRATIVE OF DYSPHORIC HOMECOMING: M.G. VASSANJI’S THE IN-BETWEEN WORLD OF VIKRAM LALL
South Asian Canadian literature occupies a place of prominence among the various immigrant literatures. A new cartography of the Canadian literature became necessary when the immigrant writers began to chart out unmapped territories in the annals of Canadian literary history. This has led to the genesis of a distinct genre called South Asian Canadian Writing. M. G. Vassanji has become a distinct figure in the canon of South Asian Canadian literature. Vassanji’s obsession with recording the history of his community in all his works may be his attempt to find a ‘home’ for himself. Vassanji considers the attempt to capture the past before it fades into oblivion as his mission behind writing. “It seemed to me that someone has to write about (the) past; it has to be captured before it disappears into the sunlight,” observes Vassanji. Vassanji believes that only by unravelling the past, can we understand the present better. This obsession with ‘home’ and ‘past’ surfaces in his novel The In-Between World of Vikram Lall (2003). It is in the form of a reminiscent narrative by Vikram Lall, who now lives in Canada, about his life in East Africa – his childhood days which saw the initial stirrings of the Mau-Mau rebellion against the White administration, which culminated in the independence of the nation and the setting up of a national government. The In- between World of Vikram Lall is Vassanji’s attempt to nail down the ‘spirit of home’ – an attempt which he deferred in all his previous works.
TRINTH.T.MINTH-HA: NEITHER BLACK/RED/YELLOW NOR WOMEN
One must try to understand how women in different sociocultural and historical locations formulate their relation to feminism. Identity itself becomes problematized when there is an attempt at representing feminism as a homogeneous movement which consequently does not serve as a productive ground for struggle as far as thrird world women or women of colour are concerned. In her seminal work Woman, Native, Other: Writing Postcoloniality and Feminism (1989) Trinh T Minh-ha interrogates the various labels and identities that relegate women through either – or- ism to fixed binary locations with immutable boundary-markers.
Samyukta Jan. 2007
Vol. VII No. 1
AYYAPPAYANAMS: EXPLORING THE QUEST MOTIF IN AYYAPPA PANIKER’S EARLY POETRY
HEMA NAIR R.
Modernist, satirist, witty, cynical, dazzling, innovative, secretive, romantic, Ayyappa Paniker at his best is the crown and flavour of Malayalam literature. Widely acclaimed by critics as one who ushered in a new sensibility- the modernist sensibility, that was directly at odds with the romanticism of poets like Changampuzha, Paniker’s poems stand out in Malayalam as the expression of a lone and different voice. Spiritual quest takes a distinctive form in the poetry of Ayyappa Paniker. It is the outcome of the poet facing up to horror and to those exquisite configurations of pleasure and pain by which we habitually draft and sign a contract with reality. This essay explores the quest motif in Paniker’s poetry- the quest of meaning, of fulfilment, of the light side of life and of death. The poet’s spiritual quest is coincident with the writings of the poems themselves.
FROM SARDONIC DISILLUSIONS TO SENSUOUS SPIRITUALITY: THE LAST TWO DEACDES IN AYYAPPA PANIKER’S CREATIVE JOURNEY
JAYASREE RAMAKRISHNAN NAIR
Modernism came to Malayalam as a visible presence in the 1960s. The major contribution of Ayyappa Paniker with regard to poetry is that he ushered in a new poetic idiom, and through many of his poems introduced free verse and poetic prose as effective vehicles to carry his message. In every sense, Ayyappa Paniker’s poems are windows to his soul. From common day to day themes to the highest exalted philosophy, all subjects find a place in his creative output. The forms and patterns he used to give expression to his thoughts are even more innovative. It is interesting to note the change in the form and theme of his poems especially by the time he wrote his last collection Pathumanippukkal. The study attempted here concerns the period spanning 1981 to 2004, a period that critics believe saw the evolution of a new style in Ayyappa Paniker’s poetry. The discussion is in two parts, the first part dealing with the social and political satires of Ayyappa Paniker, and the second part treating those with a lyrical one.
K. AYYAPPA PANIKER THE POET AS THEORETICIAN, HISTORIOGRAPHER AND AESTHETICIAN
Ayyappa Paniker’s status as a literary critic and his flair for, or rather skill in, applying theories, Eastern as well as Western, to texts of all hues and shapes, have never been either disputed or doubted. But what is perhaps still to be seriously scrutinized and evaluated is his stature as a theoretician. It is here that the analysis of his conceptualization and elaboration of ‘Interiorization’ or antasannivesha becomes relevant. This essay examines Paniker as theoretician, historiographer and aesthetician keeping in view his theory of Interiorization and his take on Indian aesthetics.
THE CRITICAL SENSE AND SENSIBILITY: AN OVERVIEW OF THE COLLECTED ESSAYS OF AYYAPPA PANIKER
BINI B. S.
Ayyappa Paniker tried to keep himself free from the restrictive systems of conventional concepts. Through creative writing and criticism, he wanted to challenge time-honoured ideas regarding the author and literature. Paniker’s perceptive enquiries into poetry, fiction and drama of different ages and languages and his views on the function of criticism and role of the critic are of great import. The uniqueness of Ayyappa Paniker can be understood when his genius, as a writer who dared to inaugurate new techniques and styles of writing and as a critic who re-conceptualized creative and critical sensibilities is viewed in a new light. This study looks into the essays and interviews of Ayyappa Paniker and examines his contributions as a creative intellectual.
AYYAPPA PANIKER AS TRANSLATOR
SREEDEVI K. NAIR
The purpose of this article is to throw light upon the extensive work done by Ayyappa Paniker in the field of Translation Studies. His work in this area, admirable and insightful in the main, is documented to the extent possible. The article has three parts besides the introduction which lists some of Paniker’s important translations. The first part discusses his stand as a literary translator as it appears from a reading of his renderings into Malayalam. The second section introduces him as a translator. The third and the final section deals with his articles on translating.
A JOURNEY THROUGH AYYAPPA PANIKER’S POETRY AT MIDNIGHT
Ayyappa Paniker is always talked about for his modernity and constant experimentation in poetry. In fact he carried modern and postmodern poetry on his shoulders all alone for a long time in the journey of Malayalam poetry without opposing the traditional ideology of poetics totally. There is no doubt that Paniker always wanted a change in his style, and it is also true that change in style and way of expression came naturally to him; he never tried to create something new deliberately. In the collection of poetry that came out in his last days- Poetry at Midnight– we once again see him trying to find new styles and ways of conveying ideas to his readers. The poems in this collection are not only about emotions; they also contain the essence of life. They tell us about poetry, life, friendship, happiness and sorrow. They also throw light on the advantages of yoking traditional systems of thought with modern views.
‘I CAN’T HELP BLOSSOMING’: AYYAPPA PANIKER, THE POET
Ayyappa Paniker bilingual poet, professor and critic continues to baffle readers by resisting a neat and easy categorization.
He was the harbinger of a new voice in Malayalam poetry and his influence in literary criticism ushered in a paradigm shift towards a radically new awareness. The remarkably wide perception, diversity of his thematic pre-occupations and the enigmatic personae emerging from his poems make the study challenging and difficult. This article is a journey through Paniker’s poetic explorations which often took the form of a caricature and parody as well as mythic exposition and vivid rendition.
GLEANINGS FROM THE PROSE WORLD OF AYYAPPA PANIKER
K. Ayyappa Paniker has created a niche for himself in the academic world as a poet, professor and critic. He heralded the dawn of modernism in Malayalam poetry and created a new perspective in the area of literary criticism. He has left behind a repertoire of prose writings, which has established his status as a true scholar in all branches of literature in regional, national as well as international literary tradition. A genre-wise analysis of his major prose writings is attempted here.
Samyukta July 2007
RESEARCHING THE ICONS: WOMEN SEERS IN THE RIG VEDA
The Rig Vedic period was the golden period for the women of India. It not only granted economic, political, social and intellectual freedom to its womenfolk but gave them full liberty to excel in the spiritual arena also. It is not surprising hence that we get to know of as many as 27 women seers from the Rig Veda and allied literature. These Rishikas both composed and visualized many of the vedic hymns. They offered prayers and performed yagna (sacrifices) for securing a life free from sin and for universal affection. A close reading of the various hymns composed by them reveals that these women seers/ renunciates/ Brahnavadinis were a group of articulate and spiritually enlightened women who were very well aware of their individuality. All of them display women power in their own right, and can be considered models of complete complementarity. The vedic vision enshrined in the hymns composed by these seers can be very helpful in finding models that envelop all contemporary discussion on the place of women in society.
RITUALS AND THE NAMBOOTHIRI WOMEN
This article explores how the religious rituals and societal codes of the antharjanam might have been in compliance with the norms set down in the Rig Veda. Aspects of this orientation are embedded in the three classical roles of worldly life trivarga – dharma, artha and kama. Through their ideal behaviour, women were expected to contribute to dharma (the order of the family and the cosmos) to artha (by producing sons and material wealth in the patriarchal family) and kama (by desire and pleasure). The irony is that while from one perspective she remained central to its concerns, from another she became marginalized, or even excluded.
TSUNAMI NEW YEAR 27 DECEMBER 2004 TO 2 JANUARY 2005: PROLOGUE
This is an excerpt from an unpublished book Children of Nature: Sacred Manifestation and Popular Culture in Thiruvannamalai, which I wrote over ten years, from 1995 to 2006. The work attempts to interlace questions of pilgrimage both in sociological terms as well as within questions of inter-religious dialogue. It also sets up the interweaving of narrative analyses with the experiential questions of being in the field.
DHARMA: AFTER KURUKSHETRA
After Kurukshetra: Three Stories(2005)works a discourse that sublates margins,fragments and hurts. All three stories look at grief and reflection, and mourning and renewal. The confessional mode brings into focus immediacy – the sense of retaining only the essential, indeed, the sense of the here and the now. In all three stories, the women move on. They don’t wait for endings. They meet the demands of life and find resolution in nature. Peter Matthiessan appears to do very much the same thing in The Snow Leopard (1978), a text that may seem entirely expedition from After Kurukshetra.
Samyukta July. 2008
Vol. VIII No. 2
CAPTURING THE WOMEN’S VOICES FROM THE DOMESTIC SPACE: FEMINISM IN RAJALAKSHMI
It is quite natural to label women writers as feminists, for the society uses such a clichéd reading of women writers to ensure that they never gain a prominence beyond their feministic value. The politics behind the feminist label has forced Madhavikutty and Sarah Joseph to vehemently oppose the inclusion of their names under this rubric. However, Rajalakshmi has never been labeled as a feminist writer like Lalithambika Antharjanam or Madhavikutty. But an analysis of her works brings home the fact that she voices in silently powerful ways the necessity for a rethinking about the conventional roles played by women in society. Interspersed within her works are statements which present the contemporary status enjoyed by women within the household and society. One of the most striking aspects of Rajalakshmi’s works is that she does not call for a political move in favour of women from the outside but mostly from within the precincts of the family. Nowhere do we find any call for radical reforms to the social mindset about the role of women. Probably Rajalakshmi was of the view that the initial changes should happen from within the inner space of the family and other institutions. The fact that the protagonists of almost all her stories and novels are women surely adds to the relevance of reading her works as the voicing of the predicament of women in the social scenario.
IN THE BELL JAR: THE THEME OF ALIENATION AND DEATH IN THE WORKS OF RAJALAKSHMI
HEMA NAIR R.
This paper analyses the theme of alienation and Death in the works of Rajalakshmi. The title of the paper, ‘In the Bell Jar’, is a term borrowed from Slyvia Plath’s well known novel. The invocation of Plath’s name inrelation to Rajalakshmi is due to the fact that both these writers of great promise cut their own life’s short when it seemed to all their readers that the sky was the limit for them. ‘The Bell Jar’ implied a sense of alienation, a depression or a fear strong enough to make the sufferer want to die. The themes that Rajalakshmi deals with range from alienation and desire for revenge to unrequited love and motherhood.
INVISIBLE NARRATIVES IN RAJALAKSHMI’S SHORT STORIES
All of Rajalakshmi’s short stories are not of the run-of-the-mill sort. A few do have the ability to hook themselves to the imagination of the readers. And the source of this haunting quality is to be seen in their peculiar narrative nature. It is as though they have a secretive character, a shyness of disposition if you will, which makes them extremely reluctant to bare all before the eyes of the readers. Like a half-closed flower, a rich Rajalakshmi short story is a partially narrated one. By enclosing a patch of silence at a strategic point in the structure, it taunts the readers to imagine what lies in its inscrutable heart. And this element of silence takes on various guises: a key segment of the plot may be left un-narrated; a crucial aspect of characterization may remain undisclosed; a significant issue may be raised but abandoned without being satisfactorily resolved; or a sub-plot may be elaborated but at the cost of the central one. This sort of incompleteness is not so trivial as to go unnoticed by careful readers. In fact, the story, wittingly or otherwise, exploits the potential of narrative silence and in the process gains a new dimension or suggests the possibility of another story that is not easily visible on the surface.
Samyukta January. 2009
Vol. IX No. 1
GENDER ROLES, WOMEN AND THE ETHICS OF WELLNESS
JAYASREE KRISHNANKUTTY, MEERA V. MENON AND SHAJU K. FRANCIS
Though specific gender roles had been allocated from the beginning of mankind, ensuring the wellbeing or wellness of the whole family has always been largely the responsibility of women. The idea of wellness indicates the presence of wellbeing and dignity in the lives of individuals, communities and cultures. Even though being in the role of the main providers of wellness, women are largely sidelined as the receivers of it. Traditional ethical considerations are largely responsible for this, but there are self imposed stigmas by women also, as causative factors. In this paper, the ethical aspects of women and wellness rooted in gender roles are examined based on six interactive dimensions of wellness viz., social wellness, intellectual wellness, emotional wellness, career wellness, physical wellness and emotional wellness.
BIO – ETHICS AN OVERVIEW
FEROSH M. BASHEER AND LEENA K. R.
The article highlights some of the major considerations in the important branch of applied ethics, Bio ethics. This branch of ethics is concerned with the study of ethical issues and decision-making associated with the use of living organisms. Bio ethics is the ‘applied ethics’, which focuses on the study of ethical issues that arises or might be anticipated to arise, in the context of real activities in the field of medicine, nursing, other healthcare professions, veterinary medicine, environmental sciences, life sciences and more. The article discusses the important branches of bio ethics, with special focus on medical ethics and much debated topics such as stem cell research and the human genome project.
THE ETHICS OF LIVING IN ANDAL’S TIRUPPAVAI
Andal’s Thiruppavai recognizes the unity of all the living beings of the world. It encodes the quintessence of all the religions of the world as it highlights the basic values of charity, good will, self-discipline, universal love and the wellbeing of the community at large, fusing the spirit of science with the ethics of humanism. Andal’s Thiruppavai illustrates how the principles Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha form the core of an ethical living. These hymns promote the idea of collective worship for the welfare of the entire world. Andal does not envisage the wellbeing of the individual alone but also the spiritual uplift of everyone. Ethical living is thus viewed as a preparation for the spiritual wellbeing of every one.
PANDITA RAMABAI SARASWATHI: MAKING OF A SOCIAL ENTERPRENEUR
UDAYA IRVATHUR KUMAR AND RAJALAKSHMI N. K.
Sustenance and support of a strategic caste system and hierarchical patriarchal system that prevailed in India, was at an enormous social cost. Women of higher caste had to bear a considerable part of this social burden of the patriarchy within their caste, after the ingress of imperialism through colonization, Indian society underwent transition. Changing positions of men in the process of modernization called for realignment in the role of women within the family and society. These new roles for women necessitated the acquisition of certain skills, which was readily provided to them through English education. This also opened up a little space for women, which was not available to them in the system that prevailed till then. Pandita Ramabai Saraswathi was able to appropriate this little space that was opened for women. The term social entrepreneur is used to signify the leadership taken by Ramabai, the courage she has shown to accept the challenges, the manner in which she organized her whole project, and addressed the social problems confronted by women of her caste. The paper attempts to make a contextualized space-time study of Ramabai as a social entrepreneur.
THE GENDERED NATIONAL SUBJECT IN GANDHI, THE MAKING OF THE MAHATMA AND DR. BABASAHEB AMBEDKAR: A SUBALTERN READING
Subaltern theories of nation, gender and historiography have shown that gender was mobilized to guard the ‘Indian’ against the ‘western’, as part of Indian renaissance. This was, indeed, a play to hide the inadequacies in Indian history. Historical cinema, being a patriarchal-nationalistic discourse, is a rich site for ideological analysis. However, the question of gender in historical cinema, has not received the attention it deserves. The article draws attention to the politics of representation in films like ‘Gandhi’, ‘The Making of the Mahatma’ and ‘Dr. Babaashed Ambedkar’ with reference to gender and caste. The paper argues that the appropriation of gender into the political category of a national citizen-subject has been a highly selective process. Only upper caste women were moulded into this political category, otherozing lower caste women. It concluded that the representation of gender in these films is meditated through the figure of the director, since it is epistemologically impossible to recover the past.
IMPLEMENTATION OF WOMEN COMPONENT PLAN IN RURAL GOVERNANCE: GLIMPSES OF A RISING TREND
K. GIREESAN, AND JOS CHATHUKULAM
In this paper, an attempt has been made to analyse the implementation of WCP in the local government institutions of a Block Panchayat in Thrissur District during the Kerala Development Programme (KDP). The need for taking up an overall review regarding the implementation of WCP in the State has been highlighted. The study views that the pattern of expenditure on projects directly benefiting women is less when compared to all the categories. It is viewed that the possibility of various operational issues inimical to women in the society has been the major hurdle for incorporating gender needs into the planning process of the local government institutions. There is a strong need for initiating and sustaining the efforts made by women’s organizations and social activists for implementing WCP. The need for taking up a macro study in the State to review the implementation of WCP during the last decade is also highlighted here.
IDENTITY TRAUMA IN JHUMPA LAHIRI’S WOMEN CHARACTERS
This study tries to represent the identity crisis suffered by the women characters in Jhumpa Lahiri’s works. Identity can be conceived as a ‘production’ which is never complete, always in process, and always constituted within, with no outside representation. This view problematises the very authority and authenticity to which the term ‘cultural identity’ lays claim. Lhhiri’s characters find themselves in such a predicament. Their individualities are disturbed under different contexts and situations. The reason for the rupture in their identities are psychological, sociological and cultural factors. This study explores the complex psycho-social dimension of the problem of human identity crisis. The causes, complications and aftermath of these exigencies are examined.
TRANSLATION AS INTERPRETATION
The attempt here is to highlight how the process of translation is at every step an interpretation of the source text much beyond the limits of language. The translation activity is influenced and directed by the reader – translator’s interpretation of the source text, which in turn determines the tone and texture of the target text. The linguistic choices made by the translator pertaining to words and sounds to be used in the target language depend on the translator’s critical interpretation of the source text. A correct interpretation would leave the desired impact on the reader. Another significant aspect is that translation is not an activity conducted in isolation, it is given shape and structure even by texts behind and beyond the ST, and that the activity of translation sets us thinking on the subject of the text and helps us clarify our own position with regard to the issues in question.
Samyukta July. 2009
Vol. IX No. 2
INDIAN MODERNITY: THE AESTHETIC DIMENSION
P. P. RAVEENDRAN
Modernity is a difficult concept to define. More so are modernity’s local and national versions, as the term ‘modernity’ is understood primarily as a universal and universalizing mindset. That is why we see an internal schism develop within the concept when we propose an Indian version of modernity. Though the presence of this schism might at first appear as a methodological flaw, closer examination would reveal that it is this schism that characterizes Indian modernity, and perhaps even constitutes it. It is through this schism that traditional ideas make their unobtrusive entry into modernity and act as an effective bulwark against the forces of Euro-centrism dominating colonial modernity. In the case of India and other post-colonial countries, on the contrary, modernity also means, apart from the rejection of what is unhealthy in the past, an effort at a re-definition of the self by a recovery from the past of the memory of what really constitutes their history and cultural identity. This is a difficult process, a process marked by tensions and contradictions, and taking place, especially in the contemporary world situation, in a site that is shared by cultural agencies that have diverse, even antagonistic, ideological and economic interests. It is the schism in modernity mentioned above that acts as a sort of buffer against the pressure emanating from these tensions and antagonism. This essay is an attempt to gauge the intensity of this schism as it narrows down at the point where colonial modernity in the contexts of India, and especially of Kerala, comes into contact with questions of aesthetics.
CHANGING PERSPECTIVE OF NATIONALISM IN BRITISH OFFICIAL DOCUMENTS
P. J. KOCHUTRESIAMA
The paper examines the official documents of the Raj to investigate the structure of feeling of the British colonizers at any given point in time during their occupation of India. A limited scrutiny of British official communication in connection with the governance of India, in the period preceding and following 1921 when Gandhi assumed the leadership of Indian National Congress, have afforded certain insights into the official reaction to the national movement, which is here interpreted as a discernible shift in the response of British officialdom to nationalism in colonial India once Gandhi assumed charge of the movement.
GENDERED VIOLENCE, NATIONALISM AND THE HEGEMONIC PROJECTS OF MODERN NATION STATES: A READING OF KAMLABEN PATEL’S PARTITION MEMOIR TORN FROM THE ROOTS
Any attempt to describe the 1947 partition of British India into two nation states of India and Pakistan inevitably brings to the fore the problematic configurations of modernity and tradition. The events that led to this moment of violent rupture were as much a result of desire for modernity as the longing for national independence. The ambivalent nature of anticolonial nationalisms and their ambiguous relationship with notions of modular modernity has been a much debated issue in postcolonial studies. The involvement of women social workers as agents of the state in the recovery programme on Partition raises some interesting questions about their agency. On whose behalf did they act? How did they engage themselves with the metanarratives of community, religion and nation, both resisting and sustaining hegemonic projects of the state? The sense of divided agency of these women is nowhere more perceptible than in the narratives left behind by them and we are indeed fortunate to have accounts by Kamalaben Patel, Anis Kidwai and Damyanti Sahgal. This article examines the question of agency, focusing on one such narrative – Kamalaben Patel’s partition memoir, Torn from the Roots, originally published in Gujarati as Mool Sotan Ukhdelan in 1977, when the euphoria of independence had already faded into the shadow of the ‘Emergency’.
BETWEEN THE COLONIAL AND THE NATIONAL MODERN: GENDER DYNAMICS IN EARLY CINEMA IN KERALAM
MEENA T. PILLAI
Keralam with its erstwhile tradition of matrilineal forms of kinship pattern, has evolved into one of the most advanced states of India in terms of social development indicators. Yet in 1933, its unique form of matrilineal kinship became the first kinship system in the world to be legally abolished. In 1928, the first Malayalam silent movie Vigathakumaran was produced. Since then to the first talkies Balan (1938) and Jnanambika (1940) Malayalam cinema shows a curious fascination with the erasure of the mother and the trope of the step-mother. This paper seeks to study the emergent discourse of cinema in Keralam in the nineteen thirties and forties and explicate how it has sought in varying degrees, to consolidate and reinforce the ‘patrifocal’ ideologies od a society that was continually struggling to efface a matrilineal past by pegging down with a vigour, infused by colonial modernity, the contours of a normative, ‘native’ femininity.
URBAN/RURAL DIVIDE: GENDER POLITICS IN MIDDLE CINEMA IN HINDI
Cinema, a narrative of life, finds expression within the cultural matrix of the community. It weaves stories rooted in the social milieu and enriched by social experiences. A major milestone in the Indian culture, cinema is an endearing spectacle of our copies heritage, rich in diversity. On a board scale, Indian cinema movement illustrates three streams of cinematic creation- popular cinema or mainstream cinema, middle cinema or middle- of- the- road cinema and serious cinema or art cinema. Middle cinema, treading a mean path borrows munificently from popular and serious cinema or from a relatively new genre, bearing the imprints of both. This paper seeks to analyze the gender politics involved in the Middle Cinema in Hindi.
TRANSGENDERING CELEBRATIONS: THE POLITICS OF SEXUALITY IN KOOVAGAM AND KOTTANKULANGARA ‘CHAMAYAVILAKKU’
SONIYA J. NAIR
With gendespeak gaining volume and lexical complexity over the ages, it becomes imperative that the factors that have come together to consolidate our perception of gender and sexuality be examined. The sociological, religious and colonial drives that have been documented also contain within them the coded narratives of the need for sexual conformity that are not far from our current concepts of eugenics. Religion, especially Christianity, when combined with the colonial agenda was a potent crusade- like force that left far reaching effects on cultures worldwide. Modernity and its implications are yet another concern of this paper. The interesting position that the transgender occupies in the midst of such deliberations is examined in the context of body, nationhood, life chances and the jostle for an economy backed identity. As a round up the paper takes into account the fomenting of a transgender lexicon that is trying to validate itself through invoking infallible allies (culture, religion) – which were once the favoured tools of the agents of an earlier modernity project.
MOOKKUTHI, KALLA AND MALA: WOMEN’S ADORNMENTS AND THE POLITICS OF SOCIAL ASPIRATION
BINI B. S.
The paper analyzes the Mookkuthi Samaram and the discarding of kalla and mala as movements that gave bold expressions to the social aspirations of ‘subordinate castes’. While looking at these confrontations through the lens of caste and gender, one can see the presence of two male protagonists in the historical accounts available on these incidents and this makes one wonder why women are a conspicuous absence. The attempts for upward mobility cannot be fully described by the term ‘sanskritization’ since it does not take into account the nuances of protest and resistance implicit in the acts of imitation or replication of ‘dominant caste’ life style by subordinate castes. Discarding one’s own caste markers is a powerful expression of dissent as it is a rejection of overt symbols of inferiority and subservience. In this discourse mookkuthi (nose stud) and kalla and mala (the stone necklaces) are not mere articles for adorning the female body. Though these adornments can be given all the conventional functional attributes of aestheticizing the female body and enhancing its desirability, there is more to them than meets the eye. When adornments act as caste markers, they signify a hierarchy, the superior- inferior relations in society. Wearing an adornment which was a unique privilege of a dominant caste and discarding another that was a caste marker for a subordinate caste show new possibilities and viabilities of breaking up caste barriers and breaking into forbidden realms. Such uprisings are unfortunately obliterated, or their significance is unacknowledged. A re-reading and reconstruction of the history of Kerala is required in order to salvage these incidents from oblivion, deliberate or otherwise.
THE SUBALTERN AND PUBLIC SPACES
Academic discussions that have largely created space for a discourse of the subaltern have primarily focused on questions and problems relating to a socio- cultural and political history of oppression. It has tried to locate the voice of the oppressed and the invisible in diverse theoretical formulations giving an orientation to subaltern studies within the framework of postcolonial studies. The subaltern has figured in public space like the educational system and the academic imaginary, then appropriately finding a specific niche in the discourse of the social sciences and humanities. This paper argues that the subaltern has staked a visible position in the education system that the State facilitates with this larger validation of the discourse in the institutionalized public space of decolonization. This institutionalized space is the reworking of old Macaulean Minutes of colonial enterprise to suit a postcolonial revival of a colonial agenda of creating a bigger market for hegemonic subaltern production.
INVITATIONAL RHETORIC: ALTERNATIVE RHETORICAL STRATEGY AS ECOFEMINIST PRACTICE FOR TRANSFORMATION OF PERCEPTION AND USE OF ENERGY IN THE RESIDENTIAL BUILT ENVIRONMENT FROM THE KEWEENAW TO KERALA
This paper explores the viability of invitational rhetoric as a mode of advocacy for sustainable energy use in the residential built environment. The theoretical foundations for this study join ecofeminist concepts and commitments with the conditions and resources of invitational rhetoric, developing in particular the rhetorical potency of the concepts of re-sourcements and enfoldment. The methodological approach is autoethnography using narrative reflection and journaling, both adapted to and developed within the autoethnographic project.
WALLED CITY? THE CLOSING GATEWAYS OF MUMBAI
A city is often formed on the basis of a collective memory. This collective memory could be an ideal based on accounts of a city that once existed or a vision of man’s perception of perfection that draws from a set of values or an anti-thesis of another place. As erstwhile colonies came into their own, the styles of construction begin to reflect a vertical surge- an imitation of powerhouse world cities. Bombay, or Mumbai has passed through a number of collective memories and is on its way to a massive engineered attempt to refashion its current status quo. Through culture and identity defining agencies like language, statehood and ideology, the Marathi movement is going against all the hyper validated diktats of the constitution and surprisingly there are only feeble cries of opposition by the administration. This paper examines the processes of metamorphosis of culture and erasure of public memory about the way things were is what is happening today.
Samyukta July. 2010
Vol. X No. 2
IN PRAISE OF HER: GENDER, NATION-NESS AND PANEGYRIC, EARLY MANIPRAVALAM PERFORMATIVE PRACTICE
This article attempts to read early Manipravalam literature of Keralam as a performative practice. Tracing out from the texts two historical milieux where praise poems in the hybrid tongue were performed, this article seeks to read Manipravalams’ objectification of women and the unique nation-ness they evoke for Keralam as two intimately linked and mutually formative constructions imbricated in aesthetic performance that works alongside other less spectacular performances in the medieval society and together enable the consolidation of intricately gendered subjects of caste.
SEXUALITIES AT WORK: UNRAVELING THE BODY MYTH IN THE KANNAGI NARRATIVES
The objective of this paper is largely twofold; to analyse how Kannagi as a symbol of chastity originated and acquired meaning; the relationship between chastity and body, its patriarchal representation in ?ilappadik?ram and understand the problematic working of female sexuality as a patriarchy-defined system in the select narratives of Kannagi. To arrive at this end view, the writer had selected two narratives, one from Tamil and another from Malayalam tracing the depiction of female sexuality over the centuries. The narrative from Tamil is a folklore ballad called Kovalan Katai and the narrative from Malayalam, a poem by T. P.Rajeevan titled Kannaki. If Kovalan Katai is an oral, ancient narrative representation of the myth of Kannagi, the poem Kannaki a modern, literary rereading. The Paper also attempts to outline the political and cultural differences between these two narratives in their respective interpretation of the Kannagi story.
TRANSCENDING MASCULINITIES ANDGENDEREDPARADIGMS OFPARENTHOOD: VISNUCHITA’S TIRUPALLANDU AND PERIYALVAR TIRUMOZI.
Religious texts and ritual practices have been equal participants in creating cultural narratives that define the mosaic of a society, sometimes subversively so. These elements are alternately causative in the creation of the paradigm of emotion that locate the psyche of the people as a whole in the community. Hindu literature and liturgy have often been condemned for their hegemonic Brahminical renditions and patriarchal employment of ideation and language. The Alvar saints of ancient India, recognized as spiritual agents of change have been credited with anthropomorphizing deities and thereby contributing to the Vedic religion’s cultural and political revival. However, Vaishnava discourse has been monopolized by the dominant episteme of sakhyabh?va and vinayabh?va that crystallized in medieval India relegating other gendered emotions. The performative poetry of 9th century Alvar saint Vishnuchita- Tirupallandu And Periyalvar Tirumozi is a staunch claimant to an ungendered parental voice of adulation for Mahavishnu and the infant Krishna that challenges societal stereotypes and current scholarship on male positioning in ancient South Indian society.
MEMOIR AND THE EROTIC: ATMAKATHAIKKU ORU AAMUGHAM (PREFACE TO AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY) AND ANTHARJANAM: MEMOIRS OF A NAMBOODIRI WOMAN
The articulation of sexuality within the malayala brahmana community is interspersed with the narrative representation of it in memoirs. Memories of everyday inconspicuousness of the Antherjanam considered “asuryampashyakal”, their semantics of appearance, elaborate ritualistic seclusion (ghosha) within the confines of the “illam” definegender identities within the community. The paper considers these imaging techniques as cryptography of his /her moral values imposed by the community of “theocratic feudalists”. The paper interprets clothing and nudity as a visual text type reinforcing values of specific social identities and becomes an operator of social control.In the caste –Sub Caste society of Kerala, sexuality was patrolled and channelized for the “reproduction of caste bodies”, to perpetuate the uncontaminated continuity of caste, purity of the body and of rituals that define their everyday. Through its “unstatedness” and dismissal, female sexuality gets inscribed forcefully into narratives within the region. The study chooses to consider two popularly known memoirs within the community, Lalithambika Antharjanam’s Atmakathaikku Oru Aamugham (Preface to an Autobiography)and Antharjanam: Memoirs of A Namboodiri Woman, to understand coercive control mechanisms that define femininity and evolving gender identities within the community.
AUDRE LORDE: READING BEYOND QUEER´DOM
Audre Lorde is a Black lesbian writer and a cancer survivor. Lorde uses the erotic as a tool to expose the hypocrisy in the white male heterosexual world that pronounces the “unexpressed and unrecognized” identities as pornography. This linguistic tool helps her to understand the relationship shared by a “womanist”. It is used to speak the unspeakable and to expose the yardsticks that construct the differences in society.
Lorde defines cancer in the light of a disease that conquers, corrupts and disrupts a nation, creating chaos. The erotic then differentiates the state of being diseased from that of being scarred and despised by the society and hence by the self. The battle of the erotic is to survive this. Lorde says that survival is not some abstract theory that operates in a vacuum, but a matter of life itself. The silencing of humanity in the name of disease, racism, gender bias and socio-economic dominance and the shame they bring are to be fought like fighting and surviving cancer.
The erotic in the lesbian body is to break that silence and to refuse disguise. It is the courage to wear your identity plain and native.
MARY OLIVER’S POEMS – HOLISTIC CELEBRATIONS OF FEMALE SEXUALITY
This paper intends to examine some representative poems of Mary Oliver which critique the andro-anthropocentric assumptions about Woman and Nature. Her poems are centred on the celebration of both the sexuality of woman and the richness of Nature which help uphold their specific identities respectively. Poems like “Honey at the Table” and “Honey Tree” contradict the argument of feminists that they cannot ignore biology but do not need to embrace explanations based on biology on biology. These poems instead adhere to the ecofeminist argument that we need a concrete understanding of the position of women in human-Nature relations. “Honey at the Table” challenges the patriarchal paradigms about Nature by retracting the roots of the honey from the pot on the table to the treetop, to the wilderness.
THE MAKING OF A QUEER ICON
This essay analyses Nijinsky as a dancer with his ballet performances and the diary. The continuous use of queer themes in the ballet theatre is studied. Did the ballet performances really change Nijinsky the man to Nijinsky the queer? The Ballets Russes made Nijinsky get rid of his own self. Nijinsky’s identity was shaped by his performances. Nijinsky having expressed himself in writing four volumes of his diaries reveals his personal side.
HOUSEWIVES IN SEX TRADE – A DESPERATE STRATEGY TO SAVE THEIR HOUSEHOLD : A STUDY OF HOUSEWIVES OF INDUSTRIAL WORKERS
This paper examines the household economy of industrial workers(male) after retrenchment from their work due to lock out and lay off industries suddenly. They were victims of union unrest and false sense of security for compensation. After long time struggle their wives had been taken desperate strategy to save their household from selling of their sex. These women were operating sex trade from a brothel of Kolkata as floating sex workers. They had hidden their profession and it was restricted only for day time. From this they were managing their household happily while their husbands were till unemployed and they were involved to commit indulgences. So, in the era of women’s empowerment the women had no such alternative for earning and they did not bother their future. They had restored their prime responsibility to save the family and its future. The relationship between women and household management has been given a new shape further.
Samyukta January. 2011
Vol. XI No. 1
INVISIBILIZING WOMEN: GLOBALIZATION AND THE GENDERED NATION
Globalization and the withdrawal of the nation steered the rise of new forms of economic oppression of women’s labour and economic stability. This leads to fresh forms of economic and social exploitation of women, their lives and their bodies. There are different modes of commodification of women’s bodies in global culture particularly in the way in which global economics affect farmer women’s lives. Despite the insertion of modernity with all the fanfare of reason, progress, productivity and individuality, postcolonial “India” under globalizing capital continues to deploy a rarefied pre-modernity. Global markets which have directly or indirectly caused the agrarian crisis and farmers’ suicides are gendered economies that do not account for either women’s agricultural labour or their economic debilitation culminating in suicides. This is owing to the spiral of processes that begin with the denigrating of women’s wisdom in cropping seeding and cultivation and ending in the re-installment of pre-modern social practices such as dowry. Indeed the figure of woman in this era of globalization and nationalist democracies, continues to collapse into the continuum of masculinist control, now represented by the spectator state. Liberal global cultures revisit traditional patriarchies, merely to revise its forms rather than to dislodge its content. It is this process of an emerging gendered economy, namely the new patriarchies of economic masculinities that is delineated here. The essay evaluates the operation of a transnational gendered economy by pointing to the masculinization of profit and the feminization of poverty for political and economic gain globally.
RECASTING MYTHS: THE POSTMODERN FEMINIST PROJECT IN MANJULA PADMANABHAN’S HARVEST
Myths are at one and the same time consequent of and constitutive of culture. Culture as theory and precept is often interlaced with myth, and it reaches its praxis in the socio-political realm. Written in 1996, Manjula Padmanabhan’s Harvest projects a hypothetical situation in the year 2010, which however is very much in consonance with the current socio-political trends. Harvest is a play that operates on diverse theoretical grounds: it is a critique of neocolonialism; it is also an existentialist play that demonstrates the principle of individual responsibility that raises a human being to an existential eminence, and condemns doubt or bad faith and guilt as weaknesses that prevent one from reaching the heights. However the play is most powerful as a feminist onslaught on the antiquated patriarchal myths.
MANJU KAPUR’S A MARRIED WOMAN: DETERRITORIALISING DESIRE
In contemporary India homoerotic love has a precarious status, as actual practice, as a conceptual issue and a subject of representation. The issue, then in question, however remains the same–that of righteousness of an outrageously overt physical-sexual act, morally, socially and genetically prohibited so far in cultured and so called traditional society. This sojourn examines Kapur’s representation of lesbian and bisexual love with their implied transcultural and lesbian imaginative spaces while seeking to disclose discursive homophobic notions. By this overt attempt of retelling traditional tale of marital discord and deviations from the set societal norms, Kapur traces the homoerotic in the cultural unconscious of a consciously heterosexist world and the east in a consciously west-centric world.
THE CHUTNEYS, PICKLES, PALIMPSESTS AND COLLAGES: THE LIVED AND IMAGINED HISTORIES IN THE WORKS OF SALMAN RUSHDIE
BINI B. S.
The concept of history in the works of Salman Rushdie is open to many interpretations and his daring portrayal of nations, events and people challenge the accepted notions about writing history into fiction. Rushdie’s vindication of the ‘imaginative variety of truth’ is noteworthy. The borderlines between the public and private spheres of experience, memory and imagination, and reality and fantasy are deliberately blurred. Many metaphors suggestive of the nature of time, history and historiography can be found in his novels, and he uses the techniques of allegory, anachronism and flashback while turning history into fictional narrative. Rushdie believes in the artistic freedom of an author to use the raw material of history for writing fiction, and while doing so one need not be bound by the conventional notions of history and can exercise the right to critique and create ‘altered and alternate versions of realities’.
A VOICE OF THEIR OWN: MALAYALI WOMEN NOVELISTS IN ENGLISH
Malayali women fiction in English is only in its nascent stage, with some of the writers existing as single-novel authors. This paper shall essay a survey and appraisal of Malayali-Anglian women novelists who, it should be said, have attained a near-canonical status in the imaginative recreation of the “region” — the milieu of Kerala — in Indian English fiction. It shall examine the significance of their work and art in the context of the social and cultural texture of Kerala and highlight the major concerns of these writers. It shall also attempt to analyze the implications of this new trend for the literary identity of Malayalis seeking creative expression in English.
RAISING EYEBROWS: AN INDIAN AESTHETIC RECEPTION OF THE DIRTY PICTURE
The Dirty Picture is a film that ruled the roost in the year 2011 along with Zindagi Na Milegi Doobara. Unlike the latter the former ruled the roost not only in the industry, the media, the awards, the critics and the crowd, it also brought in huge amounts of money for the producers unprecedented for such a star cast. There was undoubtedly only one winner unanimously selected by the award committee for the category of best female actor and that is Vidya Balan who enacted the role of a starlet of the 80s’ in the South Indian filmdom. It is also noteworthy that the film did not win any awards in the best film category. The film therefore raises a few questions related to film appreciation. Why the film which is popular and commercially successful couldn’t tap in on artistic merit – the film as an art? Why the film that drew the crowd didn’t hold their attention beyond the acting skills of the actress? Was the film inherently flawed in spite of the colourful setting, famed and seasoned actors, punch lines, steamy scenes and touching story? Was the film perceived by the audience the way it would have been perceived three decades ago? Did the audience relate to the actress Vidya Balan or the character Silk more? What were the roused emotions of the film? These questions can be answered from the point of view of the ancient Indian aesthetic theory.
ESTRANGED OFFSPRINGS OF INDIAN IMMIGRANTS: A CASE STUDY OF JHUMPA LAHIRI’S UNACCUSTOMED EARTH
HEMANT GAHLOT AND POONAM DAGA
Jhumpa Lahiri is blazed again with her latest and sensitive collection of short stories entitled Unaccustomed Earth, focussing on the relationships and generational divide between first generation Bengali immigrants and their America-bred children. Once again she set forth on the similar path she adhered to in her earlier works i.e. images of Indians living overseas. Most of the central characters are first generation immigrants who find it hard to let go off their culture and traditions. Yet they fight bravely to assimilate themselves with the environment which is mostly hard to comprehend for them. The greater part of her protagonists who are second generation immigrants, have in some way or other adjusted and assimilated themselves into the folds of the new culture even if they feel a strong pull towards their native land.
“RESISTING CLOSURE” : FEMINIST REVISIONIST CONSCIOUSNESS IN SUNITI NAMJOSHI’S FEMINIST FABLES
K. S. VAISHALI
The central claim of Second Wave Feminists is that our gendered subjectivity is constructed by our languages and cultural practices and that it is only through them that the world has any significance to us. Second Wave Feminists focus on the interrogation of cultural practices and ideological assumptions that construct a woman’s identity within a dominant patriarchal value system. This investigation may facilitate the making of a new knowledge from a woman’s point of view and may entail the writing of a new language.
JOURNEY TO ITHACA: A JOURNEY OF ENLIGHTENMENT
SHERLY M. D.
A writer of selected diasporas, Anita Desai traverses the cultural milieu in an attempt to discover the psyche of a woman whom others call ‘Mother’ giving a hitherto unknown version to wandering in her Journey to Ithaca. This latest work of Anita Desai has had immense influence worldwide.
SIGNIFICATION OF INTIMACY IN KAMALA DAS’ WRITINGS
M. K. ABDUL KHADER
This article attempts to examine signification of intimacy in Kamala Das’ (Madhavikkutty alias Kamala Surayya) writings and analyses how relations incorporate themselves in her works. Patterns of intimacy in its various manifestations become the mechanics of Das’ output penetrating her message deep into the minds of the readers. Her voice has been like lighting a bulb with electric power. It acquires various colours and shapes like affection, love, Bhakthi, Rati and affinity. She has not been successful in finding real love in man woman relationship and says that it is evident only in spirituality. Love sometimes takes the form of Bhakthi and it can manifest as prayer but cannot be compared with love of god. There are no characters in her works who do not speak about love. Thus love becomes the grammar of emotion and intimacy the letters and words. It sets the tone of the language.
TRAUMA OF INCEST AND CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE IN MAHESH DATTANI’S 30 DAYS IN SEPTEMBER
RAJ SREE M. S.
Situating Mahesh Dattani’s 30 Days in September within theatrical tradition of feminist plays in India, this article attempts to foreground the depiction of experiencing and witnessing trauma. Dattani’s work probes tangled attitudes in contemporary India towards communal differences, consumerism, gender discrimination, violence against women, gender roles, construction of identities, etc. Caught as they are, in a repressed world of trauma, the survivours of child sexual abuse and incest, occupy a liminal position in our society. Their voices are stifled and silenced by the patriarchal society. The issue of incest and child sexual abuse can be tackled from the perspective of psychological theories. It wounds the mind and destabilizes language, consciousness and perceptions. Dattani so develops the plot that all through the play, Mala lives with the haunting memories of her past. The witnessing of women’s bodily traumas and violence offered in the garish public space of the contemporary theatre as in Thirty Days in September herald the possibility of resistance and transformation.
AMITAV GHOSH: ALTERNATE HISTORIES, RESISTANCE AND MINOR LITERATURE
Writing/reading is a political act; an ever changing performance that continuously challenges the established ways of life and narration. During the process the writer/reader creates alternate spaces of expressions, distinctive open fields on which a creative writer’s impressions and politics come to play. An author from the Indian subcontinent writing in the latter half of the twentieth century and debating on history, culture, politics, language and people makes use of this plane of possibilities to invent stories that challenge previously recorded scripts of colonial history and its forms of representations. Amitav Ghosh as a writer from the post independence era naturally navigated away from the pre-given modes of contents and expressions to these other shores of story telling. As a writer who narrates the stories of the colonial bygone and the post colonial contemporariness he constantly wraps up new layers of alter/new-narratives that is in a process of constant social, cultural, historical and political ‘becomings’ that dethrone the continued personal and political dominance. The story telling ignites a narrative method that directly creates a generation, a people, and a living previously absent.
MARGINALIZED IDENTITIES: FIGURING THE LESSER KNOWN REVOLUTIONARIES OF 1857 BUNDELKHAND
This paper attempts to bring to light a few lesser-known heroic figures in and around 1857 Bundelkhand, who have never figured in the pages of mainstream history and whose voices have never been heard by the students and researchers of history — Khuda Baksh, the disciple of the Chief gunner of Rani Lakshmi Bai’s artillery, Jhalkari Bai, the chief of the women’s wing of the army of Jhansi, Raja Shankar Shah, the chief of the Gond tribe in Jabalpur, Angad Singh, who assisted Rani Lakshmi Bai in the mutiny and also the “Giris” and the “Gosains” who left an indelible mark in history.
TRACES OF MANY HISTORIES: FICTION, FACT, HISTORY AND NARRATIVE
In contemporary works of Indian fictional writers like Salman Rushdie, Shashi Tharoor, Amitav Ghosh, Vikram Chandra, Aswin Sanghi, Amish Tripathi – and the list is rather long – it could be seen that the theory of history that gets traced in their narratives strikes a balance with the observations of postmodern historiographers like Hayden White and Linda Hutcheon. Interrogating these situations, the major aim of this paper is to assert that Indian fiction in English has been mostly critical about traditional historiography and canonical history and endeavors on its own to present newer possibilities where histories are produced by combining myth and marginalized/ forgotten chronicles and thus filling the gaps and lacunae of history with make-believe or fictional histories.
DEMYTHIFYING THE SHIVA MYTH IN AMISH TRIPATHI’S SHIVA TRILOGY
The concept of Shiva, the God as a hero, is a wonderful reimagining and redefining of the entire myth of Shiva. This article aims to decipher the demythification that puts away the mythical wrappings of the Shiva myth clothing it in a modern garb. The work aims to figure out how the formula of the hero figure is reconstructed, in contrast to the familiar icon of God Shiva/Rudra in the sacred Shivapurana. The essay intends to look into the strategies and the techniques by which the myth is demythified and the results of such a demythification.
A RE-THINKING ON THE IMAGE OF WOMEN IN THE FAIRY TALE “THE FISHERMAN AND HIS WIFE”
S. SANTHA KUMARI
The German writer Gunter Grass’ reflections on the fairy tale “The Fisherman and His Wife” in his bulky novel Der Butt is a vivid portrayal of the status of women from the time immemorial to the present period. The narrative present in Der Butt traces the state of women from the age old matriarchy to the patriarchy following it up to the present period of women’s emancipation and lesbianism. Grass also tries to get at the root cause of the incurable gender bias by reflecting on the negative impact of the popular fairy tale “The Fisherman and His Wife”. Grass unearths the unnoticed contribution of women in the history of matriarchy and patriarchy by way of overcoming the food crisis and sustaining human life, while ambitious men in the patriarchy went on killing one another in the name of battles and wars in order to plunder and grab more and more lands and expand their empires.
Samyukta July. 2011
Vol. XI No. 2
THE ENIGMA OF AUTISM
LANCE A. STRATE
It has become commonplace in the US to speak of the epidemic of autism, with approximately 1 in 68 children being diagnosed with the disorder as of 2014. Characterized by impairments in social interaction and communication, as well as repetitive behavior, the disability is understood as a spectrum disorder ranging from low to high functioning, with some exhibiting savant traits. Autism also is associated with an inability to form a theory of mind, and may reflect impairments situated in the right brain hemisphere. As demonstrated via the application of a media ecology approach, the unique characteristics of the syndrome can provide insight into human consciousness, cognition, perception, language, culture, and the sense of self. At present there is no cure for autism, and while the current epidemic of childhood autism is leading to an epidemic of adulthood autism, and very little has been done to prepare for this eventuality.
WELLNESS IN ILLNESS
SIBY K. GEORGE
The mainstream naturalistic approach to the human body and mind understands wellness and illness as complete and mutually exclusive states. The existential ontology of Martin Heidegger, on the other hand, is helpful in understanding being well and ill as incomplete and interpenetrating ways of being towards self in terms of the anticipation of possibilities. The movement of human existence is a continuous negotiation of the finite and fragile possibilities of being in anxiety even when wellbeing is experienced. Being well involves arduous negotiation of the fragility, anxiety and pain inherent to existence. When illness severely obstructs anticipatory projections of the fragile possibilities of being, the possibility of wellness is never absent if the finite and fragile structure of existence and the shocks and surprises it continuously throws up are never lost sight of.
THE ART WITHIN MADNESS
The mental health system, profession and care purely works on traditional treatment and rehabilitation using a range of controlling care, stigmatizing labels and lifestyles, based on socio-political construction of mental health and mental illness. Despite the number of available and documented research by known psychologists, psychiatrists, and survivors on alternative therapy clearly showing a different perspective of living with mental illness, the individual or the schizophrenic continues facing an existential death. This paper will particularly focus on schizophrenia and the prescribed models of recovery versus possible models of living.
I have organized my paper into three main sections. The first section looks at Art being defined as slyness, trickery, or craftiness within the socio-political construction of the mental health system. Madness in this context is the foolishness of the profession, the system, and the care in respect to the madness of an individual. In the second section, Art means the creative act meant to communicate or express the senses, the experiences, the mind inspired by the madness of the said schizophrenic who learns to express his symptoms through a creative medium. I end the third section, where Art is used to mean the skill to live in madness, i.e. in being the schizophrenic and the meaning the person derives from his or her experiences that contributes to the involvement of the ‘soul’ through the symptoms. I would be addressing these accounts through an auto-ethnography approach of living with paranoid schizophrenia without medications, and how I, as a schizophrenic being, have studied myself, my symptoms and my creativity to live with a condition that science says has no cure. The sections will question the age-old ideas of psychosis and medical models of recovery which destroy the actual ‘nature’ of being.
CADAVERIZING LIFE: PARADOX OF MODERN MEDICINE
T. V MADHU
For Foucault, ‘modern medicine has fixed its own date of birth as being in the last years of the eighteenth century’. During this period, a paradigmatic turn has taken place in the history of medical thought regarding the classifications of the disease. With the discovery of pathological anatomy the focus of the classificatory technique has shifted from a source in the symptoms experienced by the living patient to a source in the organic lesions found in the corpse. Consequently, the lived experience of illness came to be seen as relatively insignificant; the real disease was to be located in the material body, the world of res extensa. The disease came to be seen as hidden inside the body and could be best uncovered by opening up the object-body, the Korper. Hence, the birth of pathological anatomy is marked by an irony: ‘That which hides and envelops, the curtain of night over truth, is, paradoxically, life; and death, on the contrary, opens up to the light of day the black coffer of the body’. Nineteenth century medicine, Foucault observes, was haunted by this gaze that ‘cadaverizes life and rediscovers in the corpse the frail, broken nervure of life’.
What Foucault wanted to argue in The Birth of the Clinic is in the context of development of modern medicine life, disease and death formed a technical and conceptual trinity. The epistemological primacy of the corpse has provided us with a radically new perspective of death: ‘instead of being what it had so long been, the night in which life disappeared, in which even the disease becomes blurred, it is now endowed with that great power of elucidation that dominates and reveals both the space of organism and the time of the disease’. Crudely, death came to be providing a grasp on the truth of life and the nature of its illness. The present paper attempts to see this as a paradox associated with the very foundation of modern medicine, which is Cartesian in spirit. Seeking help from Drew Leder’s phenomenological studies on medicine, we try to expose how Cartesian notion of body constitutes the paradigm of western medicine. The said paradox, as we proceed to argue, provides with a platform to rethink modern medicine; a rethinking that has much to learn from Merleau Ponty’s concept of incarnate body.
BIO-MORAL VERSUS BIO-MEDICAL CONSTRUCTION OF HEALTH: MEDICINE, MORALITY AND MAHATMA
PREM ANAND MISHRA
The paper seeks to explore Gandhi’s views on health arguing that his views represent a radical departure from the modern medical science’s perspective on health. It illustrates that modern medical science or bio-medical approach to health originated from the Cartesian ontology and its corresponding reductionism whereas Gandhi reconsidered health as an inescapable relationship between body, mind and spirit. The central argument of the paper is that Gandhi’s views on health represent a bio-moral approach to health that does not perceive body and mind in separation and locate the issue of health in the totality of human being, society and nature that act and react upon each other. Besides the paper also highlights Gandhi’s critical engagement with modern discourse on human body and its related cultural politics of health. To support the argument, the paper thematically engages Gandhi’s key writings on health to investigate his ideological maneuvering by which he also challenged the modern medical science’s views on health.
ENIGMA OF SPIRIT-POSSESSION AS A HEALING PRACTICE: NEGOTIATIONS WITH MODERN-MEDICINE
On being encountered by disease/illness we develop remedial measures to cope with it. These remedial measures may be seen as the operative health systems in a given culture. This, however, is not to assert that there is, and can be only one operative system of health care. It could be the case, as it often is in India, there are multiple systems contributing to the operative health care in a given community thereby raising questions about the underlying principle that explain the coexistence of these, sometimes non aligning, systems of medicine. This paper is an attempt to bring to light these questions through the practices adopted by and among the Nepali community in Darjeeling.
AN INDULGENCE OF SENSES: READING HEALTH TRAVELS IN INDIA
ELWIN SUSAN JOHN
The rhetoric of travel narratives differs from place to place. Each place has a voice of its own and it is this voice which modulates the rhetoric of travel narratives. Several factors participate in the identity formation of a place. In the case of medical travels, the identity of the place is under the strict scrutiny of travellers because health is an important concern of all human beings making them highly concerned in travelling to a place that guarantees them cleanliness and safety. Thus while travelling to a new place people generally make sure that their health conditions will not be subjected to any kind of maladies. Similarly, when people travel abroad for the sake of healthcare itself, their concern on the potential of the place to ensure good health is also high. Thus the characteristic representation of the discourse of health in travel narratives is a significant area for analysis. Through this paper, I study the expression of these travel experiences in the body’s own language that is, the language of the senses.
SELLING THE ‘PERFECT’ BODY (THAT IS NOT NECESSARILY HEALTHY): ANALYSIS OF FEMINA MAGAZINE ARTICLES ON COSMETIC SURGERY
POONAM BISHNOI AND SABYASACHI DASGUPTA
The aim of this article is to examine the ideological assumptions on which the discourse of the cosmetic surgery is based, in a leading women’s magazine, Femina. Within the jurisdiction of Framing Theory, deductive content analysis is done to present evidence suggesting that Femina magazine’s discourse on cosmetic surgery is based primarily on a frame depicted as ‘Medicalization of Beauty’ to facilitate the magazine to persuade its readers into accepting cosmetic surgery as legitimate. Within this broad frame of ‘Medicalization of Beauty’, Femina also offers a wide range of representations regarding cosmetic surgery with respect to ‘identity’, ‘normalcy’, ‘agency’. This article also points out the fact that the discourse regarding risk information and devastating health complications due to cosmetic surgery has not been mentioned.
Samyukta January. 2012
Vol. XII No. 1
STORIES OF COURAGE AND SOCIAL CHANGE
This article discusses the success of Self Help Group (SHG) movement to initiate socio-economic transformation. An important aspect of the SHG movement is getting women out of the home into the public domain. The triumph of the SHG movements rests entirely on the leadership provided by the sahayogini (grass-roots workers). The work is strenuous and hard, involving considerable travelling, and poor remuneration. The sahayogini, who also hail from similar background as the women they serve, find the movement satisfying and see it as a process of personal growth.
- WANDANA DABHI: A FEARLESS CRUSADER FOR THE POOREST OF THE POOR
Wandana Dabhi’s work represents attempts to help the tribal communities to survive and live with dignity. It is in the context of various efforts made to protect the rights of indigenous people and enable them to integrate into the fast changing economy that we need to locate Wandana Dabhi’s work. But in order to appreciate the impact of her work, we need to understand the land, the people and culture. It is only against this backdrop that we will be able to understand her motivation, work and struggle. This article discusses Sister Wandana Dabhi’s struggle for the empowerment of tribal communities.
MANGALA LOHIYA: LENDING A HELPING HAND TO THOSE IN NEED
As a hard – working bank employee, a loving wife and mother, a dutiful daughter and daughter-in-law, Mangala Lohiya has been called to fulfil many roles in her life. Despite the difficulties of juggling her multiple roles, Mangala found time to write articles, stories and poems, and more importantly, to lend a helping hand to those less privileged than herself. Having won the National Award for Literature in 2001, in Indore, she is today a recognized bilingual writer in Hindi and Marathi, with her by-line in newspapers like Lokmat and Ajanta. She has also received the Nari Ratna Puraskar from the Chief Minister of Maharashtra in 1999. This article focuses on the life and career of Mangala Lohiya.
FROM THE DUNG HEAP TO SELF-RELIANCE: WOMEN’S EMPOWERMENT IN PELHAR, THANE DISTRICT
The story of the struggles of poor women, who seek to rise phoenix-like out of a life of abject poverty to carve better lives for themselves and their families, against the backdrop of the ongoing convulsions in Indian society. The rapid economic transformation in the country has undoubtedly benefited the highly skilled and educated sections of the population by enabling them to access employment opportunities in a global market. The cascading effect of this economic upswing is seen in the changing urban landscapes with its high-rise buildings, shopping malls and flyovers. Beneath this façade of economic growth, however, are stories (waiting to be told) of the steady impoverishment of vast sections of the workforce. Underneath this stockpile of stories of suffering, despair and misery are yet another set of stories of people who have not only been callously overlooked in the process of development that the country has adopted since Independence but have also been negatively impacted by it.
CHINNAPILLAI: LEADING A COLLECTIVE STRUGGLE AGAINST POVERTY
This story of Chinnapillai’s emergence as a leader of the poor and oppressed people in Tamil Nadu, India, is a remarkable story of the struggles of a poor agricultural worker to rise above poverty and at the same time to lend a helping hand to others like her. It is a story of immense courage, for Chinnapillai did not let grinding poverty or her illiteracy stop her from joining (and subsequently emerging as a leader) a silent revolution to transform the villages in rural India. It is a story of a brave woman (who despite her own hardships and economic deprivations) sets a larger goal for herself and seeks to help others rise above poverty line even though it means that she can eat only plain rice gruel and cannot afford the luxury of eating vegetables or other nutritious foods.
A QUIET REVOLT: WOMEN RESIST INDIGENOUS STRUCTURES OF OPPRESSION IN GADCHIROLI
This is a story of an ordinary woman who lived and died in a small village a small village a thousand kilometers away from the bustling city of Mumbai. It speaks of the struggles of tribal women and the overwhelming odds faced by the development workers in their effort to empower poor women through the Self Help Groups (SHGs) movement. Initiated to enable women gain economic independence as well as to collectively challenge the prevailing structure of oppression, the movement in Maharashtra is spread over 42,000 villages. This narrative uncovers some of the difficulties encountered by the programme to bring about socio- economic change in the forgotten corners of rural India. It also celebrates the courage of indigenous women and the development workers in their struggle against patriarchy, in a dangerous political milieu. The story shows how the life and death of an ordinary woman is erased from the living memory of the community through a process of collective denial; and the conspiracy of silence imposed upon the community by the power elite in the village to forever wipes out the truth about an ordinary women’s attempt at self-assertion.
WOMEN UNITE TO ACHIEVE VILLAGE SANITATION: KAVTHEPIRAN IN SANGLI
Given the secondary status of women in a male – dominated society, women have had to struggle to establish their own identity and leadership. In Kavthepiran, the entire village gained international identity in the field of wrestling, a very masculine oriented sport. It will be very interesting to trace various dimensions of genuine gender sensitivity linked with women’s empowerment in the programme initiated by the government sponsored agencies such as MAVIM and the Water Supply and Sanitation department. Both the agencies in their official commitments were transferred into reality. The sanitation programme was initiated in Kavthepiran in the year 2001 and the district office of MAVIM was established around the same time. It was a coincidence that in the total sanitation campaign Kavthepiran lost winning being ranked first in that year. There seems to have been a realization that there needs to be a conscious attempt to ensure participation of women to achieve desirable results. It was only after the mobilization of women that the Total Sanitation campaign gained strength. The solidarity among women that the movement built helped to fuel the campaign.
AN ADIVASI WOMEN’S GRAIN BANK IN CHAKDU VILLAGE, DHULE DISTRICT
THANCY FRANCIS THEKKEKARA
Food security is a serious problem among the poor in Maharashtra. Malnutrition deaths of children, particularly in the under six age group of tribal children, are often reported, especially during the monsoons. The Integrated Child Development Services Programme focuses on children below six years of age and pregnant and lactating mothers. It provides supplementary nutrition, training and monitoring of the growth of children at the anganwadis. However the depletion of food stocks during the summer months, coupled with low employment opportunities, in remote and inaccessible tribal villages, often lead to child deaths and adult mortality. Grain Banks have been thought of in this context as a novel community intervention to provide food security in poor and remote areas.
FROM THE MARGINS TO THE CENTRE: THE STRUGGLES OF THE DIFFERENTLY-ABLED WOMEN IN PANMAGRUL VILLAGE IN SHOLAPUR
The Self Help Group (SHG), Prerna (loosely translated to mean inspiration) led by Mahadevi Kudal is a group of 5 physically handicapped women in the Panmagrul village of Akalkot Taluka in Maharashtra. Panmagrul is a village with a population of about 7000 people with several families living below the poverty line (BPL). It is located in the Sholapur district of Maharashtra, one of the bigger states of India. This essay focuses on how Prerna helped handicapped women of Panmagrul not only to seek financial assistance, but also in creating awareness and engendering them in the mainstream of the society.
SHINDETAI’S SUCCESSFUL BUSINESS VENTURE – ANNAPURNA BOJANALAYA IN SHIRUR, PUNE
For a poor illiterate woman to have risen from being a labourer to an employer is no mean achievement. Several factors have contributed for this success. While Shinde tai attributes the success to SHG, MAVIM and MRCP project, there are many other women who had equal opportunities under SHGs but who did not rise to such levels. While the SHG and MAVIM can be the catalysts, it is the enterprising nature of Shinde tai and her sheer hard work contributed to the success.
GENDER BIAS AND REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH RISKS FACED BY ADOLESCENT GIRLS IN INDIA
HEENA K. BIJLI
More than one lakh women die in India every year due to pregnancy, most of them being married adolescents. India is still grappling with the effort of reducing maternal mortality as it records the highest number of maternal deaths (UNICEF 2009; Pachauri 2009). Our country is set to meet the United Nations Millennium Development Goal Five (MDG 5) to improve maternal health and achieve universal access to Reproductive Health (RH). Still we are not making any considerable efforts in addressing the RH concerns of adolescent girls.
SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT AND GENDER EQUITY
Women, environment and sustainability raise questions of intra-household disparity, class and caste differences in ownership and access to and use of productive resources. Sustainability can be ensured only when inequalities are eliminated to ensure just rewards and equal burdens to ensure human welfare consistent with protection of our planet earth.
Samyukta July. 2012
Vol. XII No. 2
A REPAIRABLE/ PERFECTIBLE BODY-SELF-IMAGE: READING CANCER AND ITS COSMETIC CONCERNS IN SELECT NARRATIVES
BINI B. S.
My paper looks at representations of ‘disfigurement’ resulting from surgical and therapy procedures in the treatment female cancers in select narratives understand the responses to altered body-self- images in the context of established notions about the ‘beauty’ of women’s body. In the memoirs and autobiographical pieces, I analyze for this study, the body-self image is closely linked to one’s perception about the quality of life. The paper reflects on the fairness of treatment options that aim at mere survival and prolongation of life, paying very little attention to what the ‘patient’ understands as quality of life and body-self-image. In the treatment of breast cancer, the transition from Halstead’s radical mastectomy to the present moderate surgical methods and reconstruction procedures indicate, to some extent, how the body-self-image has factored into the medical processes and decisions about treatment options. Audre Lorde’s critique of wig-hunting and prosthetic breast fitting frenzy of cancer survivors and Betty Rollin’s justification of women’s concerns about their ‘appearance’ post cancer surgery and chemotherapy illustrate how women who have experienced cancer differ in their priorities and perceptions. In the light of select narratives and photography projects such as SCAR focusing on women after cancer surgery, I would like to show how capturing disfigurement in art has a shock value that translates into a social critique. Reproducing grotesque body-self-images through the media of writing and photography may assault the prevalent aesthetic notions surrounding the body and its representation.
COUNTER HISTORIES OF MODERNITY IN KERALA: READING ‘NOT SO GOOD’ WOMEN’S AUTOBIOGRAPHIES
SHERIN B. S.
Through counter narratives of Malayali modernity, autobiographical writings of Nalini Jameela and C. K Janu puncture Kerala’s claim to an egalitarian social structure. By exposing the hypocrisy of modern Malayali society these narratives challenge the hierarchical constitution of intellectual elitism in Kerala and also reject a modernity that alienates and excludes communities in the margins of this ‘progressive’ state, demystifying the ‘Kerala model of development’ thesis. My attempt here is to closely read Nalini Jameela’s autobiography, The Autobiography of a Sex Worker, and see how it deviates from the self narratives which are often hailed as representative writings of Malayali modernity. The varied reception to these works also shows the conscious choices and appropriations in mainstream histories to synthesize a homogenous image of the elite modern and the ideal feminine in Kerala.
LIFE WRITTEN ON WALLS: GRAFFITI SUBCULTURE AS LIFE WRITING
PHILIP JOSE AND E. A. IBRAHIM
This article inquires into the life narrating aspect of graffiti subculture in its reflection of subcultural and countercultural identities, focusing on the scribbles and drawings found along the public surfaces in Kerala, with a cursory probe into the history and salient features of the medium. Given that ‘Life Writing’ is the recording of selves, memories and experiences, whether one’s own or another’s, graffiti could be brought under the purview of life writing since they are individual responses of human beings to the social, political and cultural life around them. Though a graffito does not record a sizeable portion of one’s life, and may not necessarily reveal the author’s identity, it provides first hand stories and accounts of an individual’s relationship to his/her milieu. While the established modes of Life Writing are written while knowing that they are being recorded and therefore will be remembered by posterity, graffiti are written to disseminate a thought, or to publicise a personal opinion or protest. Born out of an individual’s or group’s urge to publicize the emotions and feelings pertaining to private and public life, graffiti are essentially subaltern expressions that most often strives at subverting the established structures and assertions.
LIFE WRITINGS AND COMMUNITIES OF MEMORY: A READING ON THE NARRATIVE SELF OF KURIYEDATHU TATRI
MEERA K. G.
This article analyses the communities of memory as reflected in life writings dealing with the Smarthavicharam of Kuriyedathu Tatri. However, it tries to examine various forms of life writing including autobiography, biography, testimonials, historical documents, newspaper records and literary narratives produced in various decades. My paper puts forth the point that the communities of memory in these life writings are constructed and there is politics of memory involved in constructing the meaning of the past. It focus on the role of narrative in linking the life writing memory and the identity of Kuriyedathu Tatri.
TRAUMA AND SURVIVAL : READING KARUKKU AS TESTIMONIO
RUNA CHAKRABORTYThis paper attempts to explore the significance of reading Karukku as testimonio. Generically speaking, Karukku, the life-narrative written by a Tamil Dalit woman, Bama has more similarities with a testimonio than with an autobiography. While a conventional autobiography foregrounds the vicissitudes of an individual self, this testimonio narrates the tales of deprivation suffered by a community in a larger socio-political context. Narrated from a ‘skewed’ subject position, it questions the monopoly of the dominant, mainstream discourse and offers an alternative world-view. As a literary genre, testimonio has emerged in Latin America out of the angst of the indigenous communities who have been continually tortured by various agents of the oppressive state. The testimonio’s refusal to be apolitical asserts its rebellious zeal and hence the very act of reading a testimonio not only makes the readers aware of the humiliation and violence endured by the marginalized communities but also inspires them to contribute meaningfully to the ongoing struggle against oppression. Karukku offers enough opportunities to read it as a testimonial narrative and asserts the oppositional consciousness of Dalit communities. The primary purpose of raising political and social awareness against injustice and state-aided violence will be lost if Karukku is read only as an autobiography. The aim of this paper is to show how a generic recasting of Karukku can sharpen the narrative’s political edge and help the narrator spread the revolutionary message of transforming the existing framework of our caste-stratified, gender-biased society.
AUTOCHOREOGRAPHY AS AUTOBIOGRAPHY: DANCING WITH THE PEN AND PENNING THE DANCE IN MARTHA GRAHAM’S BLOOD MEMORY
TEENA RACHEL THOMAS
By introducing a new concept autochoreography, the article seeks to unravel how Martha Graham has penned her autobiography through her performances on the stage. A major concern is how body is used for articulating one’s self. A reiterating feature seen in the text is the deep desire to create an alternate body of autobiography existing adjacent to the limits of the proper autobiographical text. This alternate autobiography is inscribed by the movement of the body through times and spaces, over the course of almost seventy years on stage. It is the presence of this alternative form of self-telling or self-knowing that leads me to argue for a consideration of dance or specifically autochoreography as autobiography.
TRANSLATING LIFE: LANGUAGE AND CULTURAL POLITICS OF THE SELF IN KAMALA DAS’ ENTE KATHA AND MY STORY
ANU LEKSHMI U. G.
The reasons behind the growing interest in life writing are many and varied, but one important factor is that autobiography, in its various guises addresses many of the contemporary concerns regarding the status of the subject in relation to questions of gender and ethnicity. An analysis of the subjects documented in Kamala Das’s autobiography Ente Katha in Malayalam and her own translation of the same as My Story in English yields interesting insights into the cultural politics that informs the process of female subject- formation in both these languages. Language is not a culturally neutral entity. The contours of a language are mapped in terms of the admissibility and taboo associated with the cultural milieu which shapes that particular language. A close reading of Kamala Das’s Ente Katha and My Story clearly demonstrates that in the language register employed, in the values that are taken for granted, and in the handling of perspective and point of view, both these texts assume readers positioned in their own respective cultural realms. The construction of the affective interiority or “I” in both Ente Katha and My Story seem to have been informed by the author’s cultural imaginary of her readers in Malayalam and English. This paper seeks to explore the dynamics of action and submission silence and speech, which Kamala Das has arrived at while working through the complexity of her victimization in Ente Katha and My Story and its larger socio-cultural implications.
MAPPING THE CONTOURS OF FEMININITY IN MODERN INDIA: A STUDY OF BINODINI DASI’S MY STORY AND MY LIFE AS AN ACTRESS AND DURGA KHOTE’S I, DURGA KHOTE
An autobiography, read as a transparent staging of existence, fails to accommodate any sense of tension or conflict between consciousness and the environment, people and their surrounding ideological world. The study is intended to theorise the politics and possibilities of women’s self – representation in order to argue for a mode of reading that exposes life writing as a manipulative discourse. The life writing material selected here- Binodini Dasi’s My Story and My Life as an Actress and Durga Khote’s I, Durga Khote– will not only be read as historical documents but also as performances within the theoretical framework of the dramaturgical model of impression management conceptualised by Richard Schechner. The observations thus produced will be used as cartographic tools for mapping the contours of femininity in the modern Indian public sphere. While Binodini Dasi lived through “the nationalist resolution of the women’s question,” Durga Khote was a product of this movement. The autobiographies offer a variety of analyses of the position of women (as a ‘private’ individual and as the public figure); explores the female subjectivity and brings out to the open the effect of the various strategies adopted to negotiate social change on the construct of femininity in the modern Indian public sphere.
THE MAKING OF THE NATIONALIST IMAGINARY: POSTCOLONIAL STAKES AND NATIONALIST CLAIMS IN THE FILM VELU THAMPI DALAWA
How the nation-state conjures up an image of itself through various ideological apparatuses is a much contested site in Cultural Studies. Cinema, being one of the ideological apparatuses of the nation-state, elaborates such issues in seemingly simple yet complex ways. The film Velu Thampi Dalawa, a popular Malayalam film in the sixties, directed by G. Viswambaran, is an ideal site for enquiry into the discourse of nation – state since it negotiates the discourses of postcolonialism, modernity, nationalism, gender and caste to form a metanarrative of the newly emerging nation-state of Kerala.
CELEBRITY CULTURE AND WRITING THE NATION: SACHIN TENDULKAR AS THE ALTER EGO OF THE INDIAN MIDDLE CLASS
SHAHID C. S. AND HARINARAYANAN. S
Celebrities are part of a society and the role played by them requires close analysis. Often, sporting celebrities are taken as role models by people for their success. In India, Sachin Tendulkar is an idol created by the public and media together. The role of the Indian middle class in the formation of Sachin as a God needs to be examined in the light of neoliberal social set up.
CARTOONING GANDHI AND THE POLITICS OF REPRESENTATION
RAJESH V. NAIR
Among the various visual life narratives, cartoons have a prominent role in depicting a life. The article begins with a brief introduction to cartoons and their appearance in India and then focuses on the twin dimensions of them – that of making and unmaking a subject. Here, some of Mahatma Gandhi’s cartoons both by native and foreign cartoonists are analysed. It also throws light on the use of cartoons as tools in biographies.
SCRIPTING DEATH: OBITUARY AS LIFE WRITING
An obituary note in a newspaper is more than a death narrative. When it narrates the death, it also inscribes the life of the diseased. An obit piece is a cultural text which performs certain functions. The life which is narrated in an obituary becomes part of our collective memory. Thus, an obituary transforms individual memory into collective memory. In each obituary, the obit subject is judged and is transformed into a symbol. The symbolic value of the obituary is such that it gives moral examples, lives to be copied and followed. The article attempts to study the narrative features of obituary along with the cultural functions it performs.
EVENT AS METAPHOR: MEMORY, HISTORY AND MEANING OF A MURDER IN PRE-PARTITION PUNJAB
This article seeks to explore the peculiar martyrological configurations that operate in a recent oral/life history of a Haryanvi Jat woman, Subhashini as presented in Nonica Datta’s Violence, Martyrdom and Partition: A Daughter’s Testimony. It demonstrates how memory intervenes in history and manipulates factual details and chronological sequence of events. Specifically, it focuses on the way in which the critical events in one’s life are interpreted, detailed, and transformed in the longue durée of remembrance and culture, in the process of fashioning a desirable identity for oneself.
VISUALIZING TRAUMA: A PHOTO ESSAY OF ENDOSULPHAN VICTIMS
On this earth, where millions of various creatures exist, humans are the only race that can annihilate its own people ruthlessly and cause trauma even to the future generations. The present world is a ‘global village’ where market determines the mechanism of life and commercial priorities rule the roost. In such a scenario, the capitalists have only one mantra to follow, which is maximum profit with minimum investment. So, when the state connives with such industrial predilection, catastrophes such as the Endosulphan hazards are bound to happen. Thousands have been affected by this state – sponsored terror where people’s right to live was mercilessly crushed. In fact, the victims are still struggling for survival as they are devoid of the compensation and rehabilitation they rightly deserve. The frivolous manner in which the authorities handled this grave issue has to be condemned as the ill-treatment meted out to those hapless victims is appalling and totally inhuman. The kind of trauma suffered by the Endosulphan victims need to be analyzed in order to search and promulgate how these horrendous effects can be erased from the collective memories of the sufferers and to instill confidence in them.
SCULPTING LIVES: A READING OF THE LIFE NARRATION OF ADI SANKARA AT KALADY
PHILIP JOSE AND RAJESH NAIR
This paper attempts a scrutiny of the sculptural narration of the life of Adi Sankaracharya at Sri Adi Sankara Keerthi Sthamba Mandapam, Kalady, and looks at how visual representations like statues and sculptures are deployed as tools for the perceptual construction of reality, and apparatuses to disseminate certain ideologies.
Samyukta January. 2013
Vol. XIII No. 1
GLOBALISED ENVIRONMENTALISM VS LIVELIHOOD : FROM THE OCEAN PERSPECTIVE
As large capital brazenly acquires rights to land and mineral resources, resistance today focuses mainly on the marginalization and dispossession of people to land while very little is known about the privatization of the ocean commons, which is happening on a large scale. No International Conventions are in place to protect the ocean commons. The environmentalists on the other hand have drawn attention to the need to conserve the ocean biodiversity and have succeeded to get global commitments to make twenty percent of the coastal ocean waters conservation areas – marine parks and the like. These for the most part, are the prime food areas or nursery grounds that provide livelihood to the coastal communities. Numerous people’s struggles are taking place in different locations along the Indian coast as they try to protect their customary rights to livelihood in the coastal waters. While large numbers of coastal communities are so being marginalized, the alternatives offered are tourism – which indeed is a money spinner for the business interests rather than genuine conservation mechanisms. On the other hand, there is a massive privatization of the oceans for its non living resources, like oil, natural gas etc. not to mention the thrust for port development along the Indian coast. As the general population continues to focus on the land based issues, the malaise caused by the contradictory environmental and development agendas remain invisible to the public eye.
On the other hand, no degree of environmentalism has been able to offset the permanent destructive effects of the massive oil spills and under water mining even in countries that claim to have stringent environmental norms. This paper highlights these contradictions making a strong case for stringent ecosystem management and the right to livelihood.
INHERITANCE OF LOSS: EXPERIENCES FROM ATTAPPADY
PRAKRUTHY U. M.
Social exclusion refers to the multidimensional process of progressive social rupture, detaching groups and individuals from social relations and institutions and preventing them from full participation in the normal, normatively prescribed activities of the society in which they live. The concept is focused to delineate the social ousting of certain groups of society from the popular and charming grounds of society filled with the social fruits generated, nurtured and popularized by a service oriented society. The working of exclusion paradigm is a process of re marginalization of already marginalized communities who are socially and historically deprived from social spaces and social fruits.
Attappady, situated in Palakkad district of Kerala, is an adivasi area with 41% of population belonging to the Kurumba, Muduga and Irula communities. Among these, the Mudugas are present exclusively in Attappady. Similar to other adivasi regions, Attapady is also an underdeveloped area. People depend upon their traditional livelihood practices like agriculture, collection of forest goods etc. They hardly have other any resource for income. However, developmental projects by government and other non-governmental agencies of the last decade have opened a new source of income for their livelihood.
This also resulted in a huge influx of mainland people to Attappady creating many new issues. On one hand, the local people were deprived of their traditional livelihood, resulting in the slow alienation of the people from their resources.
On the other hand, the areas of interaction of advasis with the mainland people increased. As happens elsewhere, this interaction has resulted in sexual exploitation of women to some extent too. Tribal number of women have given birth to children of non-adivasi men. And significantly, as it happens in many such situations, the men have vanished in a majority of the cases. These children grow as adivasi children utilizing the resources of the tribal women.
According to the Supreme Court verdict, (1) in the Shobha Hyamvathy case, caste is transmitted through fathers. Subsequently, the Kerala Government also issued an order effecting this condition to the children of inter caste married couples of Kerala. So as per these order, children born to tribal mothers out of liason with non-tribal fathers becomes non tribe. They are not eligible to get benefits of ST. So these children form a group of excluded among those already excluded from mainstream development processes. Secondly, they are denied of their traditional livelihood and also the benefits as a part of the development programs since they are not considered as tribes. They are victimized for reasons not known to them although development is coming to Attapady in a big way. This paper is based on two case studies of Anisha, a brilliant girl born to a tribal woman in her relationship with an Ezhava man and Vanaja, a tribal girl who lost her chance for employment.
SHADOWED MEMOIRS: GENDER AND PRODUCTION OF LANDSCAPE IN A RURAL KERALA REGION
SAJU T. S.
The transformation of the urban and rural landscapes within the last few decades has increasingly been dominated by the demands of capitalist utilization. Political Ecology and Production of Space theory argues that Capitalism relies specific kind of ‘produced space and nature’ for the endurance. Current local-scale changes in the landscape interweave with larger forces of globalization, time-space compression and media proliferation altering the face of landscape, both rural and urban, around the world. These larger forces span all sectors of human activity and inform a new cultural economy of space, creating new landscape spatialities that require a reformulation of landscape definitions, as well as new conceptual models and methodological approaches. This paper examines one such conflict in a rural landscape in Muthalamada, Kerala an earlier subsistence agro-ecosystem locale that has experienced a rapid commercialisation of agricultural system and rural gentrification with the introduction of a high value horticultural crop – mango in last few decades. An analysis of the changing spatial experiences of women form a subsistence agricultural production system to capitalist production system shows how the spaces are reorganized and produced as new landscapes. In Muthalamada, the in-migrant affluent orchard owners brought with them particular ‘consumption’ views of landscape displaces poor peasants and landless populations and their old imaginaries of landscapes. Combined ethnography and quantitative analysis suggests there is a clear class and gender difference in the impact of land use changes in Muthalamada. The widespread introduction of high-value cash crop, mango, in Muthalamada resulted in an imbalanced land tenure system, in which land resources reached the hands of few in-migrant elite landholders. Displacement of local population and large scale out migration of male population in the landless labourer households has been taking place. The loss of food crops like rice, millets, pulses and vegetables resulted in decreased access to and availability of food at the household level. It soared the burden of women, who bore the traditional responsibility of household food supply, in finding out appropriate food for the households. Capitalisation of agricultural production system may also generate new food-security risks with which marginal farmers and landless labourers may find it difficult to cope. The capitalist production system produced a male oriented landscape where the access to resources to women is highly restricted. This “gendered production of spaces” has been much more tangible, and negative, impact on women’s lives in Muthalamada. The agricultural change and the resultant loss of common lands largely restricted and marginalised women’s spatial experiences.
STATE ENCROACHMENT AND WOMEN: WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE TO THE MINING POLICY OF INDIA
Bina Agarwal in A Field of One’s Own (1994) offers a pithy observation regarding the historical and contemporary importance of a specific form of group right in land, namely, usufruct right in village common lands and in forests and its crucial relationship with the economic security of poor village women. Communal lands have always contributed in important ways to the livelihoods of rural households and where women’s access to the cash economy is limited, access to communal land serves as a means of some independent income and economic support. But in India during both colonial and post-independence era, with the ever-expanding process of statization and privatization, the availability of communal land has been declining rapidly. Particularly, with the state monopoly over forests and mineral resources by the British Government, the customary rights of local people were severely curtailed. After independence, the Indian state continued this policy.
The monopoly of state over forests and mineral resources has a serious impact on the local people, particularly on the tribals because they have been enjoying their customary rights over these lands for centuries, the forest resources configuring their economic pattern. Forest is an inexhaustible repository of subsistence items and it is mainly the Adivasi women who collect these items.
The state control over land, forest and mineral resources for the ‘development’ project catering to the interest of the new imperial/global policies exerts a politics of exclusion in areas and on people already with a history of marginalization-social, cultural, economic & political. Women are doubly marginalized because of this hegemonic control; their right to access to these resources is denied but this denial is not even recognized. State power over resources is working as instrumental behind the corporate loot; this direct onslaught of capital on nature includes new squares in the domain of resistance struggle. The role and participation of women is crucial as women are often doing away with the conceptual stereotypes in this conflict. The state mining policy encapsulated in ‘The Mines and Minerals (Development & Regulation) Act, 2010’ has not only directly contradicted the natural and constitutional rights of the tribals, acknowledged in the Fifth Schedule, but also excluded women and the question of their rights. In the resettlement policy, as described in this act, women are not even recognized as a separate category whose economic security and very existence is as much dependent on these lands as the men folk of their community.
This paper offers a discourse founded on Agarwal’s argument regarding the significance of women’s right to access to communal resources and its direct contradiction with the state control over resources with special reference to the Mining Policy of India. I will try and analyse the class and gender implications of this policy and point out the paradigm shift in the very conceptualization of ‘rights’ in the recently passed ‘The Mines and Minerals (Development & Regulation) Act, 2010’ and its inherent politics of exclusion. The question of state sponsored violence is also crucial in this regard.
HEGEMONIC IDEOLOGY OF EMPIRE OF CAPITAL VS FOOD SECURITY, RIGHT TO WORK AND ACCESS TO NATURAL RESOURCES: REFLECTION ON EXPERIENCES IN NAGALAND
Part I of this paper deals with the persistent ideology of extraction and unlimited growth, even in the face of international finance crisis and admitted global warming. This contradiction can ultimately be only pushed through by militarization, as we can see in states like Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Odisha. Adivasi population are exposed to unprecedented levels of state violence. Part II deals with experiences in Nagaland, where control over land has been traditionally with local communities and therefore the state could not push through land grab policies which we have seen most virulently in the promotion of SEZs all over the Indian mainland. It is therefore highly disturbing that the 11th five year plan for Nagaland was envisaging to turn the whole state into an SEZ, a concept which was not clearly understood by bureaucrats who promoted it. One of the underlying difficulties can be identified in the sexual division of labour, which has kept rural women firmly entrenched in agriculture, weaving and household labour. Political representation and decision making remained in the hands of men. Despite women’s
overwhelming contribution to food security and agriculture, they never had land rights or a voice in political decision making. The modified application of the 73rd and 74th amendment to the constitution has opened up new spaces. At the same time, modern education has alienated men and women from traditional life styles and has also contributed to unprecedented levels of corruption, especially during elections. The consumerist modernity of fundamentalist Christianity has also contributed to the entrenchment of what Max Weber characterized as ‘The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism’. Part III tries to search for a way out of these contradictions. If people in Nagaland at the crossroads of peace negotiations could opt for a community centered mode of production with food security and protection of biodiversity at the center, this could become relevant in the struggle for a different development paradigm which would also be important to adivasi areas in mainland India. Equity, non-violence and protection of natural wealth are crucial concepts in the struggle for food security and right to work. However the lack of a history in organizing non-violent mass movements and the lack of women’s political participation remain a drawback.
POLITICS OF EXCLUSION: SINGUR, NANDIGRAM AND LALGARH
DEBLEENA AND NISHA BISWAS
Nehru’s policy for shifting agricultural base to heavy industry had its toll on economic backbone of the country. Though agricultural production rose four times in last sixty years, but its share in GDP reduced from 67% to 17%. Vision 2020 reduces this share to just 6%. Russian model of heavy industrialization marginalized the agricultural sector, wherein women are the major participants. This led to deprivation of rural folk in general and women in particular. New economic liberal policies of 1990s catalyzed the process of deprivation and destitution of women.
Opening the doors to multinationals in mining, industrial development, information technology parks, special economic zones (SEZ) etc at the cost of indigenous economy structure has devastated the life of women of all strata. This loot has helped the rich to accumulate more wealth and the poor are gradually dispossessed.
Large-scale resistances against the loot of multinationals with the help of Indian state in last two decades have questioned the whole model of modernization and industrialization. Significantly, women are in the forefront and in some cases are pioneering the movement. They are challenging implicit patriarchy as well.
self-respect and self-determination of which the people are systematically deprived.
This paper analyses the role of patriarchy, sponsored by state, on the women of Singur and Nandigram where apparently the resistance has died down. Paper also analyses the effect of continuing resistance on women of Lalgarh. The paper will also highlight the various beneficiary schemes through which the state is trying to improve the life and livelihood. In West Bengal Singur, Nandigram and now Lalgarh are the epicenter of resistance. In singur and Nandigram the apprehension was loss of livelihood of which the major participants were women. Whereas, Lalgarh movement is for self-respect and self-determination of which the people are systematically deprived.
This paper analyses the role of patriarchy, sponsored by state, on the women of Singur and Nandigram where apparently the resistance has died down. Paper also analyses the effect of continuing resistance on women of Lalgarh. The paper will also highlight the various beneficiary schemes through which the state is trying to improve the life and livelihood.
Samyukta July. 2013
TOWARDS CLASS CONSCIOUSNESS: RADICAL POLITICS IN KERALAM
An analysis of deep rooted political movement requires a clear understanding of the traditional socio-economic and political conditions of the country that moulded it. It is particularly true of Kerala, the socio- economic life of which had remained unchanged till the late eighteenth century A.D. But with the political domination of the British, new economic problems and awareness were generated. It made revolutionary changes in the socio-economic and political systems of Kerala. This article deals with various stages in the formation of radical politics in Keralam. First section focuses on the semi-tribal system that prevailed before the Brahmin domination and the caste-based socio-economic system of the Brahmins that lasted for a thousand years. Second section discusses the social and political changes that happened during the pre-class conscious period in Kerala. Build up of class consciousness with special reference to the agitational politics in Travancore is the topic of discussion in the third section. Last section deals with the formation and builds up of C. P. I. unit in Kerala.
WOMEN IN NATIONALIST MOVEMENT
C. S. CHANDRIKA
Indian freedom struggle has at its various junctures and phases been instrumental in inducing women to venture out into the socio-political arena. This article discusses the magnitude of malayalee women’s contributions in the arena of Indian Freedom Struggle. A brief history of the political life of Akkamma Cheriyan is also included. The last portion is a brief discussion on the contributions of malayalee women in Punnapra Vayalar Revolt.
THE STORY OF MALAYALAM CINEMA: BIRTH AND EARLY YEARS (1928-1950)
CHANDRALEKHA K. R.
Malayalam cinema has a dynamic history to narrate, starting from the 1950s. But rarely do we concern ourselves about the movies made before the 1950s. While the 1950s saw the rise of communism and the establishment of the first communist government in India, it has to be remembered that this is the time when Malayalam cinema also rose to strength and prominence. Though drama and other forms of literature were directly used by the party for propagandist purposes, movies never contributed to it directly but cinema as a collective venture was influenced by the emergence of communism.
WHO MADE THEM COMMUNIST: AN ENQUIRY INTO THOPPIL BHASI’S YOU MADE ME A COMMUNIST
The play You Made Me a Communist is one of the most popular plays in Malayalam. It marked a revolution in the history of Kerala as well as the history of theatre in Kerala. What made this play popular and successful to such an extent? Was it just the theme which depicted the life of the subordinate class for the first time? While we analyse the incidents and events surrounding the play and the way in which it used the ample possibilities in the performing space of a theatre, we can understand that it is not merely the theme that contributed to the success and popularity of the play.
THE UNASSAILABLE VOICE OF SOLIDARITY: SOCIAL TRANSFORMATION THROUGH PROTEST SONGS
ANUSREE R. NAIR
Songs have played an important role in revolutionary struggles in all places, at all times, in the history of the world. The emotive power of the song has been exploited by the Communist Party in Kerala in order to propagate their ideology and to create awareness among the working classes about the injustice prevailing in the then Kerala society. Protest songs sung during the revolts and campaigns, the revolutionary songs in plays and movies of the times all served to inspire the masses and to sow the seeds of social transformation. This paper is an attempt to bring together some of those songs which imparted the message of socialist revolution.
BENGALI MUSLIM WOMEN’S ASSOCIATION IN THE 20TH CENTURY INDIAN NATIONAL LIBERATION POLITICS
FIROJ HIGH SARWAR
Surprisingly, as all we know that the subject of women’s participation in politics (during pre-independence India) entered in the orb of historical research in recent days. And it is quite significant that there are only some studies have been made to sketch out the role of Indian Women in the National Movement. The process of writing on this sort of theme basically chooses Bengal, where we witnessed the pioneering efforts of women in the early 20th century Indian National Movement. Consecutively a number of articles and few books came into sight which integrated the themes like ‘Women’s Participation in Indian National Movement’, ‘Women in Pre-independence Politics’, ‘Political Participation of Muslim Women’, or ‘Bengali Women and Indian National Movement’ etc. Nevertheless, unexpectedly, no one ever tried to explore the area of Bengali Muslim women’s role, or we can say their involvement in the national liberation politics distinctly. There are several references, I have found, clearly indicate the substantial contribution or association of Bengali Muslim women in the twentieth century Indian National Movement. Either individually or collectively, they took part in the contemporary political uprising, whether it was national or local, and sometimes collaborated with Hindu sisters or sometime under the aegis of Hindu women leaders. Although scattered, irregular, sectionalized and austere character of their participations in colonial politics, so far it definitely brought a new spontaneous way of political awakening to the traditional and marginalized Muslim womenfolk. Their participation in the play of National liberation politics obviously questioned the moral foundation of ‘British Imperialism. Most importantly, it carried on the ‘mission of women empowerment’ to institute individual equality in social, economic and political sphere. Hence, primarily this paper made an endeavor to assemble the relative and relevant information regarding politically politicize Bengali Muslim women and their contribution in 20th century’s national liberation politics. Secondly, it tries to estimate the mechanism and magnitude of their participation followed by the limitation of their performance.
Samyukta January. 2014
Vol. XIV No. 1
PRAXIS AS POIEISIS: “CREATING ONESELF AS A WORK OF ART”
My objective in this paper is a limited and modest one: to illumine the suggestive analogy Michel Foucault proposed between life and works of art. This analogy presupposes that ethics and aesthetics have much in common than what is conventionally believed or assumed. My suggestion is that any attempt to unravel the true import of this analogy should clarify on two aspects of the human conduct, namely freedom and understanding.
FROM THE GYNAECOLOGICAL TO THE SPECIES GOTHIC: DORIS LESSING’S POSTHUMANIST VISIONS IN THE FIFTH CHILD
PRAMOD K. NAYAR
This essay argues that Lessing’s The Fifth Child opens with the parturition Gothic centered around pregnancy with an unindividuated monstrous and childbirth with an individuated one, but an individual whose ontological identity is uncertain. In the second section, the essay looks at the emergence of the maternal Gothic where the mother has to deal with the Thing that is also, at once, her child. In the final section, on the familial Gothic, the essay shows how the spaces of the family and family relations are reconfigured around Ben. Finally, I demonstrate that Lessing’s posthuman vision is presented as a species Gothic where the boundaries of the human merge with other species. The Human in Lessing’s novel might be characterized by the ability and desire to accommodate/incorporate, difference.
FAMILIARITY BEGETS BEAUTY: SURFACING OF SPLENDOUR THROUGH INTERPRETIVE COMMUNITIES
BENOY KURIAN MYLAMPARAMBIL
The existence of beauty and the question of reality had been baffling the philosophical inquiries for centuries. The current paradigm of space and time set limits for man, a finite being, to solve the problem of the ‘one’ and the ‘many’. As the concept of “interpretive communities” forms a theoretical basis for the common reading of texts, the recurring common mental representation of the same milieu, in addition to other symmetrical perfections and repetitions constitutes the enigmatic presence of beauty. In spite of the sayings like ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’ and ‘first impression is the best impression’, one could find familiarity contributing largely in making something beautiful and comprehendible.
DIOTIMA TANTRA: A CROSS-CULTURAL CRITIQUE OF THE SOCRATIC SOLUTION TO THE ENIGMA OF BEAUTY
In the present paper I seek to explore the differences between the handling of the enigma of beauty by Socrates and that by Diotima. Drawing on the feminist writers who strongly argue for a historically ‘real’ Diotima, and following the insistence of Irigaray that Socrates probably distorted Diotima’s original speech, I try to place Diotima on a cross-cultural spectrum of feminine spirituality based on the principle of collaboration between matter and spirit. This leads me to investigate whether she can be seen as a Minoan dakini (Miranda Shaw speaks of the Buddhist tantra having been fertilized by the spiritual contribution of the female tantrics figured as dakinis), and attempt to see her view of beauty (an Aphroditean one) as more inclusive and comprehensive than that of Socrates (an Apollonian one). Drawing on Shannon Bell’s view that Diotima might have been a hetaira, I seek to present Diotima as a votaress of Aphrodite the Magna Mater, a comprehensive deity of love, sexuality and wisdom, and try to see her view of beauty as integrally connected to this essentially non-Socratic episteme of goddess spirituality.
“I AM ALL THINGS MARVELOUS”- BEAUTY AND AIDS IN MARVELYN BROWN’S THE NAKED TRUTH: YOUNG, BEAUTIFUL AND (HIV) POSITIVE
RAGHAVI RAVI KASTHURI AND SATHYARAJ VENKATESAN
Beauty, Elaine Scarry argues, is sacred, life-giving and immortal. The memoir The Naked Truth: Young, Beautiful and (HIV) Positive by the African American Marvelyn Brown co-authored with Courtney E. Martin challenges these commonplace notions of beauty in the context of AIDS. This essay examines the alternative and nuanced notions of beauty in the context of AIDS and also considers how Brown as a subject emerges both as ‘HIV Positive’ and ‘beautiful’.
BEAUTY OF THE OTHER: BEAUTY AS THE ROUTE TO JUSTICE IN THE CASE OF THE TRANSGENDER
This paper proposes to explore how the notion of beauty is qualified en face transgender identity and experience. In her lecture titled On Beauty and Being Just, Elaine Scarry associates the experience of beauty with the desire for justice. So far as beauty is experienced in terms of ideality, however, the asymmetrical non-ideal sexualities continue to be excluded from the experience of beauty, and thereby, the realm of justice. The paper explores how the intersubjective third space functions as a space where such lateral disregard for the other is overcome by the act of re-garder (in French, both, viewing and protecting). This leads to the recognition of beauty in the other followed by the desire to protect it, and brings justice to the group.
BEAUTY IN ART AND DEATH: BULL-FIGHTING IN HEMINGWAY
Beauty in art is inherent and in all its aspects dominates the world of literature. Some creative writers have realized the importance of outdoor sports in human life and consciously included them in their work to bring about their vision of life through aesthetic renderings. The arena of sport offers a context based on skill that often produces beauty as a by-product. Hemingway has successfully brought about a synthesis of both – transforming a sport into art, thereby bringing it into the realm of beauty. This paper is an attempt to analyze Hemingway’s depiction of bull-fighting through Elaine Scarry’s ideas on beauty. Scarry’s views on beauty as sacred, unprecedented, life-giving and immortal, equating it with truth and justice splendidly blend in Hemingway’s art of writing and his portrayal of bull-fighting.
UNRAVELLING THE BONDAGE OF BEAUTY: A CONTEMPLATION
The paper discusses beauty as a social construct, a means of domination and subjugation as employed by the dominant class/gender over the less privileged/ marginalized. It briefly surveys, with instances from the literary world, the panorama of societies from east to west where this parameter has been seen to wreak havoc in the lives of men and women, exemplified even in children’s literature as in Jack and the Beanstalk and Snow White. Texts under discussion include: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, Alice Munro’s short story “Something I’ve been Meaning to Tell You” and Anita Nair’s Lessons in Forgetting.
Samyukta July. 2014
Vol. XIX No. 2
SOCIO-POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC DETERMINANTS OF WOMEN’S HEALTH IN KERALA
C. U. THRESIA
Despite evoking wider approbation in the field of women’s health and ranking highest in gender development index among the Indian states, beyond the relatively better conventional indicators, Kerala face a deteriorating status in women’s health in the 21st century. The historical legacy of gender discriminatory ideology and translation of values of subjugation in contemporary neoliberal Kerala is more deepened, along with the class and caste inequities as women’s lives are ensnared in subservience, low work participation, economic marginalisation, relatively low enrolment in technical education and professional/technical employment seeking, constraints in politics, curtailed freedoms and mounting atrocities. Since health is a social construct deeply rooted in the socio-political milieu, these failings are often intertwined with the persisting women’s health issues including mental distress and rising violence, and accumulated disadvantages and health vulnerabilities of the aged women. Getting deeply entrenched in patriarchal domination, the state, political parties in the state and public policies often display a greater disregard for women’s issues. Kerala needs resolute political intervention and public policies in creating social and gender justice across all dimensions of women’s lives for achieving better women’s health.
WORK AS A SOCIAL DETERMINANT OF HEALTH: JOBLESSNESS AND INFORMALIZATION IN INDIA – IMPLICATIONS FOR HEALTH
Social determinant of health (SDH) has become a fashionable term to refer to factors beyond the conventional biomedical and behavioural risk factor approach to health. This commentary examines critically the SDH discourse and practice in India, at what it emphasizes and what it ignores, and the implications for health. While this idea of the influence of non-medical, social factors on health is not entirely a new one, the current discourse obfuscates the meaning of social determinants in various ways, emphasizing some proximal social factors, while obscuring and diverting attention away from some others. For instance: the increasing informalization of work that affects more than 90 per cent of the working population in India, including bulk of working women, finds no place in the discourse on social determinants of health.
SPINNING SILK IN THE [NEOLIBERALISED] “SILK CITY” OF INDIA
Hand spinning has been the most common work done by women of almost all classes and castes in pre-colonial and even colonial-India. This tradition was gradually abandoned in favor of mill-produced yarn. However, women, especially from weaving castes, in important textile production regions continued spinning even at the turn of the millennium. One such pocket was Bhagalpur, also known as India’s “silk city”. But influx of imported yarn since 1990s severely affected Bhagalpur’s silk production, now monopolized and controlled by few businessmen. Declining wages has compelled spinners to work in extremely perilous conditions and for longer hours. This paper intends to explore the impact of changing dynamics of silk business on living and working conditions of women silk spinners in Bhagalpur.
DEMOLITIONS AND EVICTION: IMPLICATIONS FOR SOCIAL DETERMINANTS OF HEALTH OF THE ECONOMICALLY WEAKER SECTIONS-EJIPURA, BANGALORE.
SYLVIA KARPAGAM AND SIDDHARTH JOSHI
This paper draws from first-hand experiences of the authors who volunteered for relief during the forced eviction of the residents of Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) housing at Ejipura, Bangalore and analyses the effect of the evictions on health status of the evictee population. The forced evictions constituted a series of violations by the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) and the police, with active support from the local MLA and the private contractor Maverick Holdings. Inspite of the fact that many of the families were legally entitled to stay on the land and were living there for well over 10 – 15 years; the forced eviction displaced 1500 families overnight and without warning.
The evictions led to a sudden change in the socio-economic determinants of health – namely housing, livelihood, water, food, sanitation, healthcare and education. This impacted directly on the mental and physical health of several families especially children, elderly and pregnant women. Morbidity levels went up with an increase in malnutrition, gastro-intestinal and respiratory illnesses. With the majority of the community being Dalit, Muslim or Dalit converts to other religions, the forced evictions also demonstrates an open violation of minority and marginalized community rights.
‘AND GREGOR’S CYCLE CONTINUES WAITING TO BE METAMORPHOSED’: WOMEN’S WORK AND HEALTH IN A TRANSITIONAL HILL ECONOMY
Bound by the duty of survival, life is static in motion. Before retiring after 17 hours of plying from the hearth to the fields, life begins at 4 in the morning. Fetching water, cooking, sending kids to school is what women did and continue to do without male support. With a trip to the fields bearing the cross of animal dung, they begin their attempt to keep themselves going. They are no romanticized ‘solitary reapers’ of William Wordsworth. Instead women who need to hasten the chores of the field in order to make it on time for the children returning from school. The Kafkaesque routines of domestic chores continue, followed by a visit to the fields and fodder collection. The frugal dinner of dal, chapatis and potatoes simmer. Men and children wait for their ‘elixir of life’ while the cattle is provided its sustenance.
WOMEN’S SOCIAL DEVALUATION AND ITS IMPACT UPON THEIR HEALTH
This paper explores and analyses, why and how, the women from slum and their contributions to the household are devalued and what effect this has on their lives and their health. Poverty is a very significant part of the rationale for choices made by the women that in the long run are detrimental to their health. For the women of the slum, the physical and social environment, poverty and under-nutrition, as well as their devalued low social status compounded by overwork, and the burden of reproduction are all responsible for their poor health. The paper argues the circumstances in which these women seek health care are not only rooted in material and social conditions but also in the subjective cultural norms born out of the patriarchal nature of family and social institutions.
RESTRUCTURING AND SHIFTING BOUNDARIES: WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR MATERNAL HEALTH CARE?
Over the last two decades major maternity care initiative undertaken by the state has focused on institutional birthing. This has shifted the focus from home births and moved to incentive and fee based institutions/ or services. This necessitates an increasing need to understand how provisioning maternity care is being organised, kind of organisations participating in it and the focus of such services.
This paper maps these initiatives and identifies their trends. While the focus is maternity care, the paper tries to show that with increasing commercialisation and extension of privatised services the immediate maternal health needs of women may be partially addressed, but reaching out to the marginalised groups in the remote areas, urban slums or other spaces remains a far cry. Secondly, even for women, though the new health care provisioning patterns may appear gender neutral, they actually operate with assumptions that are biased against women and impede their access and utilisation.
WOMEN AS PRIMARY PROVIDERS OF HEALTHCARE IN THE MITANIN PROGRAMME: GENDER, SOCIAL AND ORGANISATIONAL CONSTRAINTS
After the formation of the new state of Chhattisgarh, a female Community Health Worker (CHW) program was initiated. Launched after numerous consultations with health experts, this programme was innovative in many ways. The implementation on the ground however, was effected by the complex socio economic and political dynamics. This paper attempts to understand the interplay of this dynamics by studying four critical processes of the programme (selection, training, support by health services and the community) and the direction it led to.
HOW WILL THE CHILDREN BE BORN? SHAKTI AND SATTAIN THE CONTEXT OF CHILDBIRTH
This paper explores indigenous Indian concepts of power, satta and Shakti, working with data, specifically dai interviews, generated by the Jeeva Research Project. From the dais’ own words it attempts to discern and present the differences between satta and Shakti in order to nuance out the very different qualities and manifestations of power and capacity that are being enacted in the handling of childbirth in poor and rural areas of India.
MISCARRIAGE TO MEDICAL TERMINATION: THE EXPERIENCES OF LEGISLATING ABORTIONS IN INDIA
ARATHI P. M.
The present paper revisits the parliamentary process of evolution of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act, 1971 to understand the political imagination of a welfare state on reproductive rights and freedoms. The paper explores the political process of legalisation in the parliamentary democracy of India through analysing the debates in parliament while discussing Medical Termination of Pregnancy Bill. How did medicalisation of women’s health become a tool in the process of legalisation of abortions? What does it entail when a state leads legislative action to ‘protect women’ especially with a subscribed dominant ideology of Malthusianism? The paper argues that the legal journey from miscarriage to medical termination of pregnancy hardly captured the idea of women as equal rights-bearing citizens but considered them as child- bearing beneficiaries.
Samyukta January. 2015
Vol. XV No. 1
THE RITE-WOMAN DECONSTRUCTED: THE SITA-PROBLEMATIC AND THE STORY OF MANUSHI
RIZIO YOHANNAN RAJ
The deconstruction of ‘woman’ that privileges tentativeness on the one hand and continuity on the other has been significant in the context of Indian English publishing in two respects. First, historically, it did serve as a keynote in setting an organic humanistic philosophy for early women publishers in India, a vision of life that bound them in a special sisterhood of understanding. Secondly, it remains, till today, the most vital cultural feature of Indian women’s publishing that distinguishes it from the feminist publishing models in the West on the one hand and the simplistic copy-cat feminism prevalent in the Indian academy on the other. In order to trace this paradigm shift that lent Indian women’s publishing a spectacular turn of cultural realism, one has to necessarily go back to the circumstances that led to the birth of Manushi, some of the early writings in it, the incidents which provoked them, and the circumstances under which Manushi functions today, and the curious ideological turns it has taken.
THE RIGHT-WOMAN DEMYTHIFIED: THE EMERGENCE OF KALI, STREE AND ASMITA
RIZIO YOHANNAN RAJ
This article discusses the formation and contributions of three feminist publishing houses in India; Kali for Women, Stree-Samya and Asmita. Kali for Women is Asia’s first full-fledged feminist press. Stree gave India a successful model of entrepreneurial partnership in bi-lingual publishing. Asmita is a multi-pronged activist-publisher operating from a pluri-lingual site. Empowerment of women through the act of publishing can be seen against the background of the 60s and 70s, which formed a churning period in the history of modern India. With the grave problems of urban unemployment and food shortage looming large, doubts about the Nehruvian planned development were in the air, which in fact gave rise to a new political sensibility that manifested itself in agitations of students and housewives against rising prices, corruption etc., budding Trade Union activism and militant leftwing peasant organizations. Women’s participation in these struggles indeed gave an impetus to the setting up of many women’s movements, which soon began to demand protection of women’s rights in various areas. In this scenario the women publishers who came to the scene in the 80s and early nineties took upon themselves- to safe-guard, to nurture, to celebrate women’s lives and works, at once.
WHY I DO NOT CALL MYSELF A FEMINIST?
MADHU PURNIMA KISHWAR
Anyone working for women’s rights in India is automatically assumed to be a feminist, no matter what form their work takes. Yet people working for peace and disarmament in the West are not assumed to be Gandhians, even though Gandhi is the most outstanding leader of modern times to have provided a philosophy and politics of non-violence, and led the most noteworthy mass movement based on non-violent principles. The Green Movement in Germany and the peace movement in the West in general, do not need to display more than a mild and patronizing interest in Gandhi, because westerners assume that they have the right to define a self-image and choose their own terminology to describe themselves. But the same right is not granted to us, the hitherto colonized. We, Indians are labelled “feminists” without so much as a by-your-leave, not only by Western feminists but also by their counterparts in India. Many view our refusal to accept the label either as an act of betrayal or as a sign of insufficient ideological growth. This article is a critique of the term ‘feminism’ especially in the Indian context.
FEMINIST WRITING AND WOMEN IN PUBLISHING
In book publishing, which is a significant gauge of a people’s intellectual output, the last twenty-five years in India have been especially noteworthy. They have seen the emergence of a number of younger publishing professionals, many of them women. Of the ten or twelve new imprints that have been established in the country in the last twenty years, more than half have been set up by women and are run independently by them. These are in addition to family-run publishing houses and bookshops, many of which also have women at the helm. Feminist writing and publishing in India have also had a major part to play not only in presenting and disseminating critiques of the dominant development model, but in shaping it, through their close involvement with women at the grassroots, through workshops and training, and through making the necessary links between macro-level policy and micro-level reality. The theoretical perspectives on gender and development that have emerged from women bear the stamp of this politically engaged consciousness; the many networks that have taken up the issues in any number of ways, at any number of meetings, seminars and conferences, and in campaigns throughout the country have fed this consciousness back into women’s writing and researching, so that their activism and their publishing complement each other in a very fundamental sense.
THE STORY OF STREE-SAMYA
This article discusses Mandira Sen’s experience as a publisher of Stree-Samya. It looks into the achievements and challenges faced by Stree-Samya while publishing in an age of globalization and multinationals. Stree focuses on the status of women in India, publishing on the workplace, whether organized or unorganized, paid or unpaid, class relations and political subjection, marriage and the family, and the impact of religion, culture and ideology. It also translates women’s contributions to literature and scholarship in the Indian languages into English and is particularly interested in memoirs written by women. It was perhaps the first publisher of women’s studies to consider a social science list that addressed caste seriously; indeed caste has been central to the choice of feminist texts, and it also led to the inauguration of the second imprint, Samya (‘equality’).
THE WRITE-WOMAN RECOVERED: VAG DEVI AS DECREATOR
RIZIO YOHANNAN RAJ
It is in negation of the male-centred publishing industry with its colonial hangover that women publishers came into the scene with their transformative interventions. The high point of this revolution in the industry was marked by the women publishers’ foray into the area of literature. This article focuses on women publishers who have chosen to publish literary writing and children’s literature in order to revitalise the world of thought and ideas in the country. As a theoretical prologue to the study of their work is recovered a seminal trait of the best of literary writings—decreation, a counter creativity which manifests itself through a negative knowing of the ‘actual’ world. The foresight inherent in the decreative vision of these publishers becomes apparent in their choice to showcase literature in translation and children’s literature.
ENTERING THE WORLD OF CHILDREN’S BOOKS
This article deals with Radhika Menon’s experience as a multilingual publisher of children’s books. First section discusses the formation of Tulika. Second section is a brief description of the challenges faced by Tulika while publishing in different Indian languages and English. This section also looks into the challenges related to the distribution of books. The next section discusses how they publish for the ‘big Indian market’ without compromising on the core values of publishing. Last section focuses on current projects of Tulika.
THE YEARS GONE BY
This article discusses Chandra Chari’s experience as a publisher of ‘The Book Review’. First issue of The Book Review was proudly displayed in January 1976, by its three founding editors – Chitra Narayanan, Uma Iyengar and Chandra Chari – at the New Delhi World Book Fair organized by the National Book Trust every two years. The reaction of most readers, especially in the academia, during the first years of The Book Review’s existence was that welcome as long as the venture was there, implying it would not last – most such niche journals had faded away after a year or two. However, for the founding editors, the enthusiasm with which publishers began to support the journal with review copies and advertisements was pure adrenalin. Thiry-five years later, the scenario only seems to get better and better. This article looks into the formation, its gradual evolution and challenges faced by ‘The Book Review’.
THINK-WOMAN COMETH: THE QUESTIONING GARGIS OF OUR TIMES
RIZIO YOHANNAN RAJ
This article look at the cases of a few women in academic publishing in India to illustrate how they have initiated a trans-epistemic inquiry in the space of publishing, by offering the country and to the world at large, a paradigmatic action and a symbolic enterprise of seeking the truth most relevant to our times, going unwittingly beyond their own stated feminist and radical objectives. Beyond their serious epistemic considerations, they have almost inadvertently shown us a way to arrive at the truth, by all the time pushing the limits of conventional knowledge as well as its accepted processes of generation, dissemination and conservation.
C. S. LAKSHMI
This article focuses on C. S. Lakshmi’s experience as a trustee of SPARROW. SPARROW’s foray into publishing began as a tentative venture in 1997. SPARROW’s initial attempts to publish were in the form of booklets which were brought out after each workshop, based on the proceedings of the workshop and also on the video recordings done at the residence and workplace in the case of artists. This article discusses the various challenges faced by SPARROW in publishing. It also looks into the current project of SPARROW.
WHEN WE DARED TO PUBLISH: EXPERIENCES OF AN EDITOR
G. S. JAYASREE
This article deals with the story of formation of Samyukta. Since its inception in 2001, under the auspices of Women’s Initiatives, Samyukta has been at the forefront of academic deliberations related to women’s issues. As a journal that systematically addresses issues of silencing that women have endured through the ages, Samyukta answered a long-felt need for an exclusive forum of publication for women in India. As a matter of policy, the journal promotes substantial writing by women in the regional languages of India by publishing translations of women’s work that often goes unnoticed. This helps in defining new contours for research, making students aware of socially and linguistically marginalized women. The journal has also contributed towards popularizing the literary oeuvre of major writers who are no more.
WOMAN ENTERPRISING: THE YELLAMMA PARADIGM
RIZIO YOHANNAN RAJ
In the wake of the fierce competition from global competitors, feminist publishers today evolve viable business plans without compromising their cause. Many women publishers have turned entrepreneurial in their outlook towards publishing by attending book fairs, forming associations, making effective community networks across languages and borders and by exploring the possibilities of the worldwide web to make sustainable business models. The question that is brought to the fore here is how can technology be employed in our times to bring back the fair spirit of the original barterers – who saw the true value of an object as integrally linked to the need for or surplus of it in a certain context, and is not thoughtlessly enslaved to a constructed idea of money as profit and loss.
Samyukta Jan. 2016 Vol.I No.1
Immortal Nirbhaya – From Victim to Victor Around the Globe
Deepsikha Chatterjee and Claudia Orenstein
Yael Farber takes a real episode of brutal domination and power, hatred and violence, horror and bloodshed, shame and anguish, and creates a stage worthy award winning production that is touring the world. Responding to the infamous gang rape and murder of a young woman on a bus in Delhi in 2012, which engendered protests throughout India and a national reassessment of the place and perception of women in Indian society as well as the prevalence of sexual violence, this production, has stirred the hearts of audiences. This article aims to understand the power and strength of Nirbhaya and the show’s relationship to the real events and their impact nationally, and, on the other hand, assesses the intercultural nature of the project, with its international cast, its South African director, its UK premiere and tour, and its subsequent New York performance. Born from a collaboration of committed performers and guided by Farber’s artistic vision, Nirbhaya is a unique theatrical response to the explosive events of December 2012 within the Indian theatrical community,in its simultaneous incorporation of confessional material, its use of ritual and poetic elements within a strong theatrical structure and its approaches for reaching audiences.
Talks To Uttara Asha Coorlawala, Geetha Rao & Shyamala Surendran
Kalanidhi Narayanan (b. 1928) is recognized with the highest of national and artistic awards for her recovery of methods of abhinaya, particularly, padam and javali forms that celebrate human love. She was ferreted out from retirement in 1973 by dance connoisseur Y. G. Doraiswamy to teach young woman dancers today.1 What she gave us were ways to reconstruct historical poems by studying their contexts, while relying also on imagination and human observation. Thanks in large part to her mentorship, we are now treated to woman-to- woman interpretations unlike earlier post-Independence performances, which had already been inflected by the male and colonial gazes. All this is referenced in a series of three recorded interviews with her during her first visit to the USA in 1989. The interview selections are arranged here by topic, in two segments. The first segment is mainly an introspection of Narayanan’s student life, her teachers and the cultural environment of her early training period. The second segment is about her teaching methods. As I listen to these tapes today, twenty six years later, I hear how ignorant we were then, (1989) of the past of dancers who bequeathed to us what we do. Yet, in this I was not alone. Protima Bedi's life changing accidental experience of encountering Odissi dance for the first time, was in Bombay as recently as 1974-5. And so it was for many of my generation. For those of us, who sought out and studied Bharata Natyam2 in the 70s, many questions arose, but the answers did not fit our experience. And this is one reason why I sought and recorded these interviews, and value them. People seemed to accept the blank space shrouding lived past, and those who knew would not speak. Dance in India was a blank for most of my family and persons of their generation, where Urdu poetry, the Shah Namah, Science and English literature were the markers of educated cultural value. Having grown into dance in an environment of aspersion and contradictory claims, I deeply appreciate the honesty and generosity of Narayanan as she delved into her own past to help us fill the blanks. We witnessed her struggle to call on what she had learned, from whom and how, despite her own strict traditional Tamil Brahmin past. Her voice was of someone struggling (like myself) to understand the changes.Where Kalanidhi Narayanan, or Maami as she is affectionately called, speaks about her own training and teachers, we hear a patient woman sharing memory across generations and cultures. Then we are left to fill in from her allusions the how and the why of what she had to forget and unforget! I hope as you read this transcript of our exchange, sometimes direct and sometimes circumspect, that you too will hear her refusal to accept given social categories of personhood; her refusal of notions of authenticity, exclusion and inclusion. And you will almost hear her questioning herself when she says she cannot argue. [Why? Good women do not argue.] On the subject of teaching abhinaya her voice is clear, and if she is unsure of how to explain her process, she is firm in her recognitions of what is appropriate, useful in stagecraft, with faith in the traditions of performing abhinaya and in her cognition of the logic of its conventions. She acknowledges her interventions. With great respect and admiration for the practice and life experience of Narayanan, and with care not to interject my views on her words, I submit that this is an edited version collated from several conversations over three locations. My friend and dance afficionado Geetha Rao, Mohiniyattam dancer Shyamala Surendran, and I, met with her at my apartment in Greenwich Village; at a workshop later the same day at Lotus Fine Arts, attended by Professor Richard Schechner, and his many students from the New York University Performance Studies department on September 27;3 and one more meeting with her in an apartment in Queens on September 29, 1989.
Speaking to the Male World: Caste and Performance of Women Playwrights
Abstract : The nearly 170 years old modern proscenium theatre in Marathi language is considered to be an important cultural identity of the progressive Marathi middle class. Its text- intensive nature renders importance to the playwright who shapes theatrical social knowledge through plays in a major way. Historically, writing of plays acquired importance in the colonial period because the theatre had become an important site to construct colonial public discourse particularly with respect to nationalist aspirations of the middle class and the nineteenth century reform movement for women. Though the generally observed social invisibility of women is true of the colonial Marathi theatre as well, it happens to be more a case of non- recognition of women playwrights than a reality. It is a primary observation that the Marathi women playwrights have been writing independent social, humourous, historical or mythological plays for approximately the last 110 years even when their plays did not always stand a chance of performance. Considering continuity of their writing as their collective “performance” and as an act of intervention in the theatrical discourse in defiance of objectification and reduction in masculine reflection, I would like to explore the intentions and methods of their writing through two contemporary examples of playwrights namely, Hirabai Pednekar (1885- 1951) and Girijabai Kelkar (1886-1980). I submit that if the meaning of being a woman playwright in colonial modern Marathi theatre is to be an agency of social thinking and change, then the feminine agency does not receive its due credit because of social prejudices against categories of caste and gender.
FREEDOM IN PERFORMANCE: ACTRESSES AND CREATIVE AGENCY IN THE KUTIYATTAM THEATRE COMPLEX
Abstract: 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 democratization 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.
THROUGH THE WOMEN’S BODY: STAGING REBELLION IN THE PLAY PURDAH BY ISMAIL MAHOMED
Abstract: This article examines the play Purdah (1993) by the playwright Ismail Mahomed, a Pakistani writer and director born in Johannesburg (29 May 1959) who has been active on the theatre scene in South Africa for the last thirty years. Purdah1 is a one-woman stage performance that addresses the issue of seclusion and subjugation of the Muslim Indian women of Lenasia, the neighbourhood of Johannesburg, which during the apartheid regime was constructed as a ghetto for the Indian community. I argue that the play, narrating the story of Ayesha, a young girl subjected to the customary practices of her community and Muslim family laws, is an instance of ‘issue theatre’ that creates a venue for discussing the seclusion of women in purdah not just as a curtailing of freedom and a breach of human rights, but also as a psychological form of ‘colonisation of the mind’ that impinges on the development of woman’s psyche and impedes the act of ‘creation’, in the double meaning of artistic ‘creativity’ (poiesis) and ‘fabrication’ of subjectivity.
Evolution of the Mahalakshmi Ladies Drama Group 1989-2015
Abstract: 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.
Precarious Citizenship: Social Absence Versus Performative Presence of
Urmimala Sarkar Munsi
Abstract: “Nachni” women from the eastern part of India, are popularly known inparts 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, marginalized, 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 theorize commoditization 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.
Heredity Abandoned, and Kannagi’s Courageous Decision to act in Special Drama
Abstract : 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.
STAGING GENDER IN RAMLILA OF RAMNAGAR
Abstract: Interrogation of gendered representations proves particularly salient in Ramlila, (literally “Rama’s play”) which is a performance of the Ramayana epic in a series of scenes that include song, narration, recital and dialogue. This paper will look at gender in performance and gender as performance in the context of Ramlila. The most recent emphasis in feminist literary theory has been upon the concept of “performativity” to analyze the processes of the formation of gender identity. This essay is informed by a series of issues raised by the current gender theories in understanding the largely conservative and preservation-oriented practice of the Varanasi/ Ramnagar Ramlila.
“Theatre is the Constant, the Only Constant that I have Held on to”: An Interview with Arundhati Nag
Arundhati Nag (b. 1956) is a well -known theatre personality who has contributed immensely to the Indian stage as an actor, director and most importantly, as the founder of Rangashankara (a dedicated space for theatre in Bangalore). She has had the privilege of having acted in plays written and/ or directed by eminent playwrights and directors in India. Her felicity with languages has helped her act in Gujarati, Marathi, Hindi, Kannada and English. Her acting career spans over four decades, winning accolades for her acting prowess and gaining her roles in quite a few Hindi and Kannada films. She has received the prestigious Padma Shri award for her unstinted contribution to the Indian theatre, and the National Award for the best supporting actress, for her role in the film Paa (2009). She currently lives in Bangalore.