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CSCS - Centre for Study of Culture & Society


GENDER, MEDIA AND MODERNITY, 1950-2000
Project Coordinator: Tejaswini Niranjana

Pivoted around the question of identity formation as relating crucially to the processes and modes of representation, an issue not dealt with centrally enough by the women's movement or by feminist theory in India, this project concentrates mainly on Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.

Focussing on cinema, television, print media and their audiences, our aim is to historicise the subject of woman in India by drawing attention to the material and social practices which constitute that subject. Women's desires and fantasies need to be understood as historically specific, and the 'imaginary' and symbolic realm have also to be seen as historical horizons.

The processes by which the female subject is constituted, we argue, can be productively investigated in relation to questions of modernity and sexual difference; the redrawing of public and private spheres and of rural and urban spaces; the redefinition of domesticity and femininity; citizenship, justice, rights and secularism; caste and religious identities; liberalization, consumerism and globalization.

In the second phase of this project, we are working on two bi-lingual volumes, which we expect to be ready for press by the end of 2001.

Proposal for a two-volume publication :

The Emergence of the Women’s Question in Karnataka, 1880s to the present

Volume I (approx. 350-400 pages) will contain selections from Kannada and English writings as well as visual materials intended to document the emergence of the female subject in the historical and geographical spaces now named as Karnataka State. The main attempt is to explore the connections between the subject and sociality, between the organisation of subjectivity and that of the social order.

Organised thematically and chronologically, the texts will include policy documents (eg., the princely state of Mysore’s GO s on Women’s Education, Family Planning, etc.), transcripts of Legislative Council debates (eg., on age of consent, employment of devadasis, widow remarriage, the Hindu law of inheritance), missionary texts (eg., about native women and conversion in South Kanara), legal petitions (eg., women’s petitions for maintenance), early fiction (eg., from Gulvady Venkatrao’s Indirabai, or Kerur Vasudevacharya’s Indira), memoirs (eg., D.V.Gundappa’s essay on Bangalore Nagarathnamma in his Jnapaka Chitrashale), discussions in the North Karnataka press about the role of women in the nationalist struggle, selections from women’s journals (eg., R.Kalyanamma’s Saraswathi (established 1917) and Nanjangudu Thirumalamba’s Sati Hitaishini Granthamale (1913 to 1939)), speeches by women politicians (eg.,Yashodharamma Dasappa and Kamaladevi Chattopadhyaya of the Indian National Congress), articles by women in the mainstream press (eg., Shyamaladevi), advice to women (eg., Shantadevi Malavada, Anupama Niranjana), domestic fiction (eg., the novels of M.K.Indira, Triveni, Vani), careers of actresses in women-oriented popular cinema (eg., Kalpana, Aarati), contemporary short fiction (eg., Vaidehi, Veena Shanteshwar, Sara Abubakar), contemporary poetry (eg., Pratibha Nandakumar, Du.Saraswathi), feminist debates from the 1980s, and reports on controversial events (eg., the Miss World beauty contest). This is by no means a complete list, and we expect to revise it after consultations with historians and cultural critics.

Volume II (approx. 200-250 pages) will contain critical essays by contemporary scholars working on issues of gender and modernity in Karnataka. The scholars include Shivarama Padikkal, Janaki Nair, Tejaswini Niranjana, P.Radhika, K.C.Sukanya, Mrinalini Sebastian, Annapurna Garimella, Ramesh Bairy, Prithvi Chandra Shobhi, M.Madhava Prasad, Muzaffar Assadi, Seemanthini Niranjana, Sudha Sitaraman and others.

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