Real and Imagined Women: Gender, Culture and Postcolonialism

Routledge

An essential addition to the postcolonial debate which offers a challenging mode of `reading resistance' which destroys the stereotyped and sensationalised humanist image of the `third world woman' as victim.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Routledge
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Published on
Mar 9, 2004
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Pages
168
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ISBN
9780203359662
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
Literary Criticism / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Rajeswari Sunder Rajan
The Scandal of the State is a revealing study of the relationship between the postcolonial, democratic Indian nation-state and Indian women’s actual needs and lives. Well-known for her work combining feminist theory and postcolonial studies, Rajeswari Sunder Rajan shows how the state is central to understanding women’s identities and how, reciprocally, women and “women’s issues” affect the state’s role and function. She argues that in India law and citizenship define for women not only the scope of political rights but also cultural identity and everyday life. Sunder Rajan delineates the postcolonial state in implicit contrast with the “enlightened,” postfeminist neoliberal state in the West. Her analysis wrestles with complex social realities, taking into account the influence of age, ethnicity, religion, and class on individual and group identities as well as the shifting, heterogeneous nature of the state itself.

The Scandal of the State develops through a series of compelling case studies, each of which centers around an incident exposing the contradictory position of the Indian state vis-à-vis its female citizens and, ultimately, the inadequacy of its commitment to women’s rights. Sunder Rajan focuses on the custody battle over a Muslim child bride, the compulsory sterilization of mentally retarded women in state institutional care, female infanticide in Tamilnadu, prostitution as labor rather than crime, and the surrender of the female outlaw Phoolan Devi. She also looks at the ways the Uniform Civil Code presented many women with a stark choice between allegiance to their religion and community or the secular assertion of individual rights. Rich with theoretical acumen and activist passion, The Scandal of the State is a powerful critique of the mutual dependence of women and the state on one another in the specific context of a postcolonial modernity.

Anuradha Dingwaney Needham
While secularism has been integral to India’s democracy for more than fifty years, its uses and limits are now being debated anew. Signs of a crisis in the relations between state, society, and religion include the violence directed against Muslims in Gujarat in 2002 and the precarious situation of India’s minority religious groups more generally; the existence of personal laws that vary by religious community; the affiliation of political parties with fundamentalist religious organizations; and the rallying of a significant proportion of the diasporic Hindu community behind a resurgent nationalist Hinduism. There is a broad consensus that a crisis of secularism exists, but whether the state can resolve conflicts and ease tensions or is itself part of the problem is a matter of vigorous political and intellectual debate. In this timely, nuanced collection, twenty leading Indian cultural theorists assess the contradictory ideals, policies, and practices of secularism in India.

Scholars of history, anthropology, religion, politics, law, philosophy, and media studies take on a broad range of concerns. Some consider the history of secularism in India; others explore theoretical issues such as the relationship between secularism and democracy or the shortcomings of the categories “majority” and “minority.” Contributors examine how the debates about secularism play out in schools, the media, and the popular cinema. And they address two of the most politically charged sites of crisis: personal law and the right to practice and encourage religious conversion. Together the essays inject insightful analysis into the fraught controversy about the shortcomings and uncertain future of secularism in the world today.

Contributors. Flavia Agnes, Upendra Baxi, Shyam Benegal, Akeel Bilgrami, Partha Chatterjee, V. Geetha, Sunil Khilnani, Nivedita Menon, Ashis Nandy, Anuradha Dingwaney Needham, Gyanendra Pandey, Gyan Prakash, Arvind Rajagopal, Paula Richman, Sumit Sarkar, Dwaipayan Sen, Rajeswari Sunder Rajan, Shabnum Tejani, Romila Thapar, Ravi S. Vasudevan, Gauri Viswanathan

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