Politics of the Female Body: Postcolonial Women Writers of the Third World

Politics of the Female Body: Postcolonial Women Writers of the Third World

Politics of the Female Body: Postcolonial Women Writers of the Third World

Politics of the Female Body: Postcolonial Women Writers of the Third World

Synopsis

Is it possible to simultaneously belong to and be exiled from a community? Arguing that it is possible, the author uncovers the ways that the female body becomes a site of both oppression and resistance. She reveals common political and feminist alliances across geographic boundaries.

Excerpt

I am Indian, very brown, born in
Malabar, I speak three languages, write in
Two, dream in one. Don't write in English, they said,
English is not your mother-tongue. Why not leave
Me alone, critics, friends…. The language I speak
Becomes mine.

—Kamala Das, "An Introduction,"
The Old Playhouse and Other Poems

Women with faces full of hope and life crowd on dusty benches in the audi- torium of St. Joseph's College, near Calicut, Kerala. They are gathered from all over India, from villages, small towns and cities, some traveling for two nights on the train to reach this place in southern India for the Fourth National Conference of Women's Movements in India, December 1990. I have arrived by plane from my native home in Bombay (via Amherst, Massachusetts, where I lived and worked at that time), flying Air Asiatic, a fledgling new carrier recently established by an enterprising Kerala native, now wealthy in the Middle East. The airline had only two planes at that time, and the entire ground staff arrived onto the Calicut air-strip to wel- come us, quite a contrast to landing on one of several runways in Los Angeles, or New York, taxi-ing, and parking at gates leading directly into jetways and plush terminals.

Here in Calicut, we step down the ladder and onto the ground. I am as much, even more, a stranger here than I am in unfamiliar cities in the United States. Here, I must negotiate taxi-fare, without really knowing how far we have to go. I show the written address to the driver, and give myself over to the possibility of a circuitous route and a high fare! Finally, we pull into the St. Joseph's College compound, and as I join the nearly two thou- sand women at this activist conference, I enter a unique learning experience . . .

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