By Rajeswari Sunder Rajan
Real and Imagined Women explores a number of fascinating and important theoretical questions for feminists by offering a challenging mode of 'reading resistance', set against the stereotyped and sensationalist image of the 'third world woman' as victim. Real and Imagined Women reconceptualizes this overdetermined subjectivity in separate but related essays that explore the practice and representation of sati, the issues around rape and wife-murder, and the official and media construction of the 'new' woman in colonial and post-Independence India. In addition, an essay on the 'case' of Indira Gandhi identifies, at the other end, the elite female subject, the woman-as-leader, and seeks to reclaim her for a feminist politics. The central and repeated concern of these essays thus emerges as the (re)construction of female subjectivity in the interests of a feminist praxis.Rajeswari Sunder Rajan reads the cultural representations of women through a wide and varied range of texts - from the classical Tamil epic Silapaddikaram to recent film, popular fiction, commercial advertisements, legal texts and journalism - and by this means raises the issue of how the postcolonial situation frames the context between 'real' and 'imagined' women.