Feminist Critiques and Resistances (VFCR)

Home/ Feminist Critiques and Resistances (VFCR)
Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Foundation ElectiveSHS2028412

Semester and Year Offered: 4th Semester, II year (Winter Semester, 2020)

Course Coordinator and Team: Rachna Chaudhary

Email of course coordinator: rachna[at]aud[dot]ac[dot]in

Pre-requisites: None

Course Objectives/Description:

The specific phenomenon of gender based violence is contained within the large and complex rubric of violence itself. The course will thus begin by conceptually locating the question of gender based violence within the idea of violence itself. In specific, an analysis of the violence perpetuated by the state and its various structures will form an underlying theme of the course. As such a larger emphasis will be on understanding structural and indirect violences, and the violence emanating out of the everyday. Since the different forms of violence originate from and are produced by systems and discourses of societal, political and economic power, the discussions in the course would include an examination of philosophical questions as to how processes such as law, democracy, (neo)colonialism, practice of caste and religion, as well as their corresponding institutions such as families, courts, schools and religious structures are invested with regimes of power. The course thus aims to expand our understanding of violence and its feminist critiques and responses, to locate both these categories in the quotidian and the structural.

Course Outcomes:

On successful completion of this course students will be able to:

1. Identify key aspects of Violence and Gender.

2. Demonstrate knowledge of key texts and topics related to violence and feminist resistance.

3. Trained to deploy violence as a crucial category, constitutive of and shaped by gender.

4. Demonstrate an awareness of critical skills required to read a range of texts

5. Apply knowledge of violence to problematize consideration of gender.

Brief description of modules/ Main modules:

The various modules will be taking up following themes through the readings assigned for each week:

Structures of Violence: The various modules initiate discussions of structures of violence; the distinction between violence and non violence and how structures of violence have gendered impact.

Violence and the State: The forms that violence takes and its relationship with the state is an important one especially considering the relationship of the state with women and women’s movement.

Nation, Gender and Violence: the other significant category is the nation and its exclusionary processes. The modules take into account the Others of the nation-state.

Violence in Law: A similarly significant site for women’s movement and feminist theorizing is the law. Law is also the site of violence and its constitutive role in subjectivation will also be taken up in the course.

Assessment Details with weights:

  • Class activity: 30%
  • Assignment 1: 30%
  • Assignment 2: 40%

Reading List:

Week 1, 2 and 3: Understanding Violence

  • Slavoz Zizek, Violence: Six Sideways Reflections, Picador, New York, 2008, pp. 1-39.
  • Amartya Sen, Identity and Violence: The Illusion of Destiny, Penguin, London, 2007.
  • Walter Benjamin (1986). “Critique of Violence” in Reflections: Essays, Aphorisms, Autobiographical Writings. Schocken Books, pp 277 – 300.
  • Giorgio Agamben, State of Exception, translated by Kevin Attell, Univercity of Chicago Press, Chicago, 2005, Chapter 1- The State of Exception as the Paradigm of Government, pp. 1-31.
  • Veena Das, Violence, Gender, and Subjectivity, Annual Review of Anthropology, Vol. 37 (2008), pp. 283-299.
  • Kumkum Sangari, Under Institutional Sanction: The Discourse of Violence, in Politics of the Possible: Essays on Gender, History, Narratives, Colonial English, Anthem Press, London, 2002, pp. 397-409.

Week 4 and 5 – Ordinary/Extraordinary Violences

  • Kalpana Kannabiran, The Violence of Normal Times, Women Unlimited, New Delhi, 2005, Introduction, pp. 1-45.
  • Elizabeth Grosz, The Time of Violence: Derrida, Deconstruction and Value, in Time Travels: Feminism, Nature, Power, Duke University Press, Durham, 2005, pp. 55-70.
  • Rajeshwari Sunder Rajan, The Story of Draupadi’s Disrobing: Meanings for our times, in Rajeshwari Sunder Rajan (ed.), Signposts: Gender Issues in Post-Independence India, Rutgers University Press, New Jersey, 2001, pp. 332-359.

Week 6 - Nation, Gender and Violence

  • Nayanika Mookherjee The absent piece of skin: Gendered, racialized and territorial inscriptions of sexual violence during the Bangladesh war, Modern Asian Studies, Vol. 46, No. 6 (November), pp. 1572-1601
  • Srila Roy, The Ethical Ambivalence of Resistant Violence: Notes From Postcolonial South Asia,
  • Feminist Review, No. 91, South Asian Feminisms: Negotiating New Terrains (2009), pp. 135-153

Week 7 and 8- The ‘Others’ of the Nation-State

  • Gyanendra Pandey, “Can a Muslim be an Indian?, Comparative Studies in Society and History, Vol. 41, No. 4 (Oct., 1999), pp. 608-629
  • Film screening and Discussion around Lighting Testimonies, by Amar Kanwar, Available on Youtube

Week 9- Laws on Violence, Law’s Violence

  • Nivedita Menon, Rights, Bodies and the Law: Rethinking Feminist Politics of Justice, in Nivedita Menon (ed.) Gender and Politics in India, Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 2012, pp. 262-295
  • Robert M. Cover, Violence and the Word, 95 Yale L.J. (1986). Available at:
  • V Geetha (2016), Feminist Dilemmas: Punitive Rape in Caste Society, in V. Geetha, Undoing Impunity: Speech after Sexual Violence, Zubaan, New Delhi, pp 186-217

Week 11 - Violence and Masculinity

  • Sanjay Srivastava, Masculinity and its role in Gender Based Violence in Public Spaces. Available at
  • Laura J. Shepherd and Laura Sjoberg (2012), “trans- bodies in/of war(s): cisprivilege and contemporary security strategy”, Feminist Review, No. 101, conflict, pp. 5-23

Week 12 – Violent/Non-Violent Responses

  • Deepti Misri (2011), “Are you a man?”: Performing Naked Protest in India”, Signs, Vol. 36, No. 3 (Spring 2011), pp. 603-625
  • Rita Manchanda Women's Agency in Peace Building: Gender Relations in Post-Conflict Reconstruction Economic and Political Weekly,Vol. 40, No. 44/45 (Oct. 29 - Nov. 4, 2005), pp.4737-4745

Suggested Readings:

  • K Anglin. (1998). “Feminist Perspectives on Structural Violence”, Identities, 5:2, 145-151.
  • Hannah Arendt, “We Refugees”, in Altogether Elsewhere: Writers on Exile, (Ed.) Marc Robinson, Faber and Faber, pp 110-119.
  • Sharmila Rege (2018) The Madness of Manu: Unpacking the Riddle of Graded Violence against Women in Anupama Rao (ed) Gender, Caste and the Imagination of Equality, Women Unlimited pp 188-204
  • Laura J Shepherd Women, Armed conflict and language—gender, violence and discourse, International Review of the Red Cross Volume 92 Number 877 March 2010, available online at
  • Srila Roy. (2008). “The Grey Zone: The 'Ordinary' Violence of Extraordinary Times”, The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, Vol. 14, No. 2 (Jun), pp.316-333
  • Sylvia Walby, Jude Towers, Susie Balderston, Consuelo Corradi, BrianFrancis, Markku Heiskanen, Karin Helweg-Larsen, Lut Mergaert, Philippa Olive, EmmaPalmer, Heidi Stöckl and Sofia Strid , The Concept and Measurement of Violence, Chapter Title: Conceptualising Violence And Gender, Bristol University Press, Policy Press (2017)
  • Urvashi Butalia, (1998) Other Side of Silence: Voices from the partition of India, Penguin Books, New Delhi, pp 1-26, 106-171, 344-371
  • Leki Thungon (2018) Seeking Justice and Keeping the Memory Alive in Violence and the quest for Justice in South Asia (edited by Deepak Mehta and Rahul Roy), Yoda Press
  • Nitya Rao, Marriage, Violence, And Choice: Understanding Dalit Women's Agency in Rural Tamil Nadu, Gender and Society, Vol. 29, No. 3 (June 2015), pp. 410-433
  • Cynthia Enloe, “All the Men are in the Militia, All the Women are the Victims: The Politics of Masculinity and Femininity in Nationalist Wars”, in The Women and War Reader, edited by Lois Ann Lorentzen and Jennifer Turpin, pp 50-62.
  • Deepak Mehta, Collective Violence, Public Spaces, and the Unmaking of Men, Men and Masculinities 2006 9: 204, DOI: 10.1177/1097184X06287762
  • Upendra Baxi, From Human Rights to the Right to be Human: Some Heresies, India International Centre Quarterly, Vol. 13, No. 3/4, The Right To Be Human (December 1986), pp. 185-200
  • Anita Ghai and Rachana Johri, Science, Gender and Reproductive Technologies: A case of disability in Sumi Krishna and Gita Chadha (eds., Feminists and Science: Critiques and Changing Perspectives in India, Vol. I, Stree, Kolkata, 2015, pp. 96-121.
  • Ather Zia (2019) Blinding Kashmiris, Interventions, 21:6, 773-786, DOI: 10.1080/1369801X.2019.1607527