Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Women Contesting Culture: Changing Frames of Gender Politics in India

Women Contesting Culture: Changing Frames of Gender Politics in India

Edited by Kavita Panjabi and Paromita Chakravarti
demy octavo pb 381pp ISBN 978-81-906760-8-3 Rs 500 May 2012

Culture is both a constraint and ‘an enabling context through which women express themselves’, the editors point out, emphasizing that those relegated to the margins by patriarchy’, the Bahujans––the masses––and women had their contributions ‘invisiblized’. Yet women ‘re-worked the culture-domesticity space reserved for them . . .  and some also extended the norms of the home into the public sphere.’ In this anthology, the editors grapple with the dialectical nature of culture, ‘particularly how its dichotomies become most evident in its gendered and gendering manifestations, through everyday material and aesthetic practices’.
The anthology is divided into six parts: Part 1 Cultural Expressions; Part II Institutions, Canons, and Feminist Cultures; Part III Sexuality and Body Cultures; Part Iv Political Cultures and the Culture of Politics; Part V Theoretical and Methodological Approaches; and Part VI Bibliographical Essay.

Kavita Panjabi is professor, department of Comparative Literature and Co-ordinator, Centre for Studies in Latin America Literatures and Cultures, Jadavpur University; Paromita Chakravarti is reader, department of English, and joint director, School of Women’s Studies Jadavpur University.

Published by: Stree

 ‘In their comprehensive Introduction, the editors touch upon decades of debate, pointing out that culture is ‘indispensable for women’s studies and gender analysis because it opens up ways of understanding how power functions in society.’ They argue for a ‘merged practice’ that articulates material, historical interrelationships and its symbolic representation in varied forms of culture. Interdisciplinarity is, therefore, a cornerstone of feminist scholarship. The 23 chapters in the Reader are organized into sections that cover cultural expressions; institutions; sexuality; politics; and theoretical and methodological approaches. The Reader is not exhaustive; there are many themes and topics that have not been included, as the editors themselves acknowledge. Yet, this rich collection provides a tantalizing gateway into a dynamic complex field.’

Sumi Krishna: The Book Review Feb-Mar 2013
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