ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Writing the Self

Hindi Dalit Literature and the Politics of Representation by Sarah Beth Hunt (New Delhi: Routledge), 2014; pp 264, Rs 695.

'Fashioning' Swadeshi

This article explores the gendered implications of the swadeshi rhetoric by focusing on how its language was creatively appropriated by the Hindu publicists of colonial United Provinces to dress up Hindu middle-class, upper-caste women in particular ways. This had implications for a new vocabulary of sartorial morality, for modern bourgeois values of thrift and for Hindu revivalism. However, swadeshi dress campaigns were also embedded in social, caste and religious hierarchies, sexual divisions and moral boundaries, exposing various tensions at the heart of the project.

Pluralities of Voices

Rebels, Wives, Saints: Designing Selves and Nations in Colonial Times by Tanika Sarkar(Ranikhet: Permanent Black), 2009; pp 347, Rs 695.

Hindu Women, Muslim Men: Love Jihad and Conversions

The fake claim by the Hindu right that there is a "Love Jihad" organisation which is forcing Hindu women to convert to Islam through false expressions of love is similar to a campaign in the 1920s in north India against alleged "abductions". Whether 1920 or 2009, Hindu patriarchal notions appear deeply entrenched in such campaigns: images of passive victimised Hindu women at the hands of inscrutable Muslims abound, and any possibility of women exercising their legitimate right to love and their right to choice is ignored.

Visual Pleasures for the Female Gaze

The display of male sexuality, particularly through erotic male songs and dances in films like Om Shanti Om and Saawariya raises questions about gendered dynamics in popular Bollywood cinema.

Dalit 'Viranganas' and Reinvention of 1857

Contemporary Hindi dalit popular literature has emerged as a critical source for deeper insights into dalit politics and identity. This paper examines the ways in which this literature has dealt with the role of dalit women in the revolt of 1857. It interrogates both conventional and historic writings on 1857 and mainstream portrayals of dalit women and also dalit writings on the subject.

Search for Answers at India Social Forum

The India Social Forum 2006, held in Delhi in early November was a veritable carnival - of discussions, debates and meetings on subjects ranging from migratory labour, displacement and trafficking to children's rights, special economic zones and issues of sexuality and gender - held in an atmosphere of heady optimism and attended by thousands. But it was not merely a talking shop, infused as it was with organised and spontaneous cultural performances that celebrated peoples' struggles, rights and identities.

Censuses, Communalism, Gender and Identity

The census has always been used by communal forces to map Hindu communities, to count them, and above all to compare them with other religious communities, particularly the Muslim. Census data has been an instrument not just for enumeration, but also for comparison.

Blurred Borders

Coastal fisherfolk of India and Pakistan are often arrested for crossing borders. They are victims of defined and undefined boundaries and borders in the seas, and increasing conflicts over renewable resources. These coastal conflicts need to be understood from several overlapping but distinct perspectives. Low-intensity conflicts over environmental concerns are as serious as conventional war and simultaneously question cartographic and border anxieties of these countries.

Retelling History

Pangs of Partition, Volume I: The Parting of Ways, and Volume II: The Human Dimension edited by S Settar and Indira Baptista Gupta; Indian Council of Historical Research, Manohar, New Delhi, 2002; pp 368+358, Rs 700 each.

Anxieties of Hindu Right in Everyday Realm

The attempts by the activists of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Hindu Jagran Manch of Kotdwar, a town in Uttaranchal, to forcefully stop Hindu women from visiting Muslim male tailors illustrate the inclination of the Hindu communalists to propagate the image of the sexually charged, lustful Muslim male, violating the pure body of the Hindu woman. The VHP is trying to operate in both the private and the public domain, attempting to monopolise the field of everyday representation.

The Icon of Mother in Late Colonial North India

In the metaphor of nationalism, it is the female body and the many faces of 'mother' - motherland, mother tongue, motherhood - have served as the most universal and potent symbols of imagining the nation. The symbol of mother was especially effective because it could take on different meanings in different contexts. This paper examines how and why the metaphor of mother was used in multiple fields in late colonial north India, with a special focus on the UP. Hindu publicists of UP particularly worked the icon of the mother into narratives of nation, language and cow, thereby sharpening the contours of community identity.

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