Faces of the Feminine in Ancient, Medieval, and Modern India

By Mandakranta Bose | Go to book overview

postcolonial desire in terms of the dialecticization of traditional Indian values and modernity. Their postcolonial dream is to offer an "Indian modernity" that is culturally different and capable of contesting the cultural dominance exerted by Western versions of modernity. Resistance against and renegotiation of the ideologies of gender and sexuality that encode current practices of dowry are, thus, not only an important aspect of the forging of contemporary Indian identity but also -- and this is important -- they are part of a fantasmatic of postcolonial subjectivity that involves a saying no to aspects of Western culture, especially to some of its ideologies of gender and sexuality. If Indian national identity is currently understood in patriarchal terms as a sexual "division of labor" -- of the happy combination of modern culture, imagined as masculine activity in economic spheres, and of Indian tradition, conceived in terms of women's conformity to traditional roles assigned to them in premodern social texts -- then these women's writings bring this two-part identity into crisis and gender the postcolonial imaginary itself as feminist insurgency, as the invasion of female meanings into patriarchal cultural logic. They implicitly also raise the question as to the circulation of desire in Western dominant representations of Indian women as victims of dowry violence, where Indian women's bodies are looked at as suffering bodies rather than as bodies of resistance, so that the pathology is in the gaze rather than in the spectacle of dowry violence.


Notes
1.
Bhachu ( 1991), pp. 401-12.
2.
Van Willingen and Channa ( 1991), pp. 369-77.
3.
Kandiyoti, in Van Willingen and Channa ( 1991), p. 377.
5.
Raghavan ( 1990), pp. 84-86.
6.
Krishnan ( 1963).
7.
Kannan ( 1992), pp. 143-66.
9.
Raghavan ( 1991), pp. 142-54.
10.
Ambai ( 1978), pp. 188-98.
11.
Silverman ( 1992).

References

Ambai C. S.) (Laksmi. "Mother Has Committed a Murder". K. Subramaniyam, ed. Tamil Short Stories. New Delhi: Authors Guild of India, 1978.

------. The Faces behind the Mask: Women in Tamil Literature. New Delhi: Vikas, 1984.

Bhachu, Parminder. "Culture, Ethnicity and Class among Punjabi Sikh Women in 1990s Britain". New Community 17.3. April 1991.

Harrell, Stevan, and Sara A. Dickey. "Dowry Systems in Complex Societies". Ethnology 24.2. April 1985.

Heyer, Judith. "The Role of Dowries and Daughters' Marriages in the Accumulation and Distribution of Capital in a South Indian Community". Journal of International Development 4.4. July-August 1992, pp. 419-36.

Kannan, Lakshmi. "India Gate". Parijata and Other Stories, Trans. Lakshmi Kannan. New Delhi: National, 1992.

-295-

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Faces of the Feminine in Ancient, Medieval, and Modern India
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Notes xii
  • References xii
  • Acknowledgments xv
  • Contents xvii
  • Contributors xix
  • Part One - Visions of Virtue 3
  • Notes 5
  • 1 - A Controversy Over a Verse on the Remarriage of Hindu Women 7
  • Notes 16
  • References 19
  • 2 Satī - The Event and the Ideology 21
  • Notes 30
  • References 31
  • 3 Satyavatī - The Matriarch of the Mahābhārata 33
  • Notes 46
  • References 47
  • 4 Usable Women - The Tales of Amba and Mādhavī 48
  • Notes 54
  • References 55
  • 5 Anasup - A Pativratā with Panache 56
  • Notes 66
  • References 68
  • 6 "The Wildering Gloom" - Women's Place in Buddhist History 69
  • Notes 85
  • References 85
  • 7 - The Goddess, Women, and Their Rituals in Hinduism 87
  • Notes 103
  • References 105
  • Part Two - Women and Power 107
  • 8 - The Goddess-Women Equation in Śākta Tantras 109
  • Notes 122
  • References 122
  • 9 Women's Wealth and Worship - Female Patronage of Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism in Medieval Tamilnadu 124
  • Notes 137
  • References 144
  • 10 the Goddess-Woman Nexus in Popular Religious Practice - The Cult of Manasā 148
  • Notes 159
  • References 160
  • 11 - Mīrābai in the Academy and the Politics of Identity 162
  • Notes 177
  • References 179
  • 12 Candrāvatī Rāmāyaṇa - Feminizing the Rāma-Tale 183
  • Notes 190
  • References 191
  • 13 - Women Saints in Medieval Maharashtra 192
  • Notes 199
  • References 199
  • 14 Powers Behind the Throne - Women in Early Mughal Politics 201
  • Notes 210
  • References 211
  • Part Three - Emerging Voices 213
  • Notes 216
  • References 217
  • 15 for Our Native Sisters - The Wesleyan Ladies' Auxiliary in India 219
  • Notes 231
  • References 232
  • 16 Flora Annie Steel - A Voice for Indian Women? 234
  • Notes 247
  • References 249
  • 17 - Exploring Tradition and Change Among Women in Marathi Culture 251
  • Note 269
  • References 269
  • 18 the Construction of Gender in History and Religion - The Sikh Case 270
  • Notes 279
  • References 284
  • 19 Postcolonial Identity as Feminist Fantasy - A Study of Tamil Women's Short Fiction on Dowry 287
  • Notes 295
  • References 295
  • 20 - Eroticism and the Woman Writer in Bengali Culture 297
  • Notes 302
  • 21 Women in Radical Movements in Bengal in the 1940s - The Story of the Mahilā Ātmarakṣā Samiti (women's Self-Defense League) 304
  • Notes 317
  • References 319
  • 22 the Feminist Movement in West Bengal - From the 1980s to the 1990s 322
  • Index 335
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