programme

Feminist Movements in South Asia

Home/ Feminist Movements in South Asia
Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Foundation ElectiveSHS2028314

Semester and Year Offered: 2nd, 2019

Course Coordinator and Team: Krishna Menon

Email of course coordinator: krishnamenon@aud.ac.in

Pre-requisites: enrolled as a PG or research student in AUD

Course Objectives/Description:

Feminist Movements in South Asia is a course designed to help students critique and engage with the category of the nation-state as framed by the plural histories of South Asia from a feminist vantage point. The course would seek to demonstrate that 0ur understanding of social, economic, cultural, ecological and political conflicts on the one hand and the possibility of change and transformation on the other hand are impacted by our vantage point. The nation-state more often than not has been a favored vantage point to understand feminist movements. What would feminist movements look like if these boundaries were to be disregarded? Is there a possibility of doing so? These along with many related questions would be discussed in this course. This course would firmly advocate that a perspective that moves beyond the boundaries of the cartographic certainties imposed by the nation-state would yield a different and probably a more textured understanding of our times. This course would argue that such boundaries are more likely to be accompanied by power, surveillance, control, regulation and violence. How does the idea of the nationstate impact feminist politics, and how does feminist politics destabilize and sidestep the idea of the nation-state, while being mindful of the differences that abound? South Asia is an interesting ground for the study of feminist movements because of its complexities, similarities and differences. Studying this region from a gendered perspective would yield very fascinating insights. It is a region that has on the one hand produced important women politicians and heads of states, while also being

witness to some very brutal and harsh attacks on women based on caste, ethnicity, anguage and religion. The course seeks to demonstrate patterns of feminist struggles and triumphs both at the local as well as the national and regional levels and in doing so it seeks to study the patterns of feminist politics and mobilization in this region. Located within the interdisciplinary program of Gender Studies, the course would draw upon the cultures, literature, music, cinema and fine arts among others to establish the constructed nature of both the category of the nation state and its gendered expressions.

Course Outcomes:

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

  1. Critique the category of South Asia and gain familiarity with the wide ranging debates on the use of the term South Asia
  2. Gain an understanding of the some of the important aspects of gender in the South Asian context ranging from aspects such as the nation, religion, economy, military, violence and peacebuilding.
  3. Demonstrate a knowledge of some of the most important academic literature in the English language that is concerned with South Asia written from a feminist perspective
  4. Acquiring critical reading and writing skills through the exposure to a diverse range of materials for discussion in the classroom
  5. Apply research skills to source materials for class presentations and assessment tasks
  6. Be able to analyse and spot trends in South Asia pertaining to employment, migration, violence and militarism, political mobilization, religious movements from a gendered lens.

Brief description of modules/ Main modules:

  1. Unpacking the idea of South Asia- This module will examine the complicated and varied history of the term South Asia. It will attempt to engage with some of the major debates on the question of is there a South Asia- some important academic essays will be employed to examine this category.
  2. Nationalism, State and Gender in South Asia- The second module examines the intimate linkages between the project of state formation, national identity and nationalism on the one hand and the gendered regimes that govern these projects. It would seek to examine the gendered nature of nation state formation in South Asia , while also deliberating upon the ways in which gendered identities are themselves bearers of nationalist politics and agenda.
  3. Women’s Activism and Religion in South Asia- This module highlights the important role played by religion in the consolidation of gender in South Asia and the deeply inscribed presence of religion in the gender landscapes across this region. It seeks to examine the ways in which feminists in South Asia have engaged with religion, and particularly ask the question whether religion could be deployed for progressive and emancipatory ends.
  4. Questions of Labour, Economy and Gender in South Asia- The fourth module is intended to familiarize the student with questions of labour, economy and gender in South Asia. Here, one of the main concerns would be the gendered ways in which economy is organized across the region impacting the nature of labour, work and wages that men, women and others have access to and the assumptions surrounding the political economy of gender, labour and economy in South Asia.
  5. Southasian Feminisms- Challenges and Possibilities- In this module the aim is to ascertain whether or not a solidarity forged across the contentious national borders based on a feminist sensibility would be possible. The challenges that are faced by such attempts as well as the possibilities offered by this would be examined.
  6. Militarism, Conflict, Peacebuidling and Gender in South Asia- The challenges posed to feminist politics by the excessive use of militarism and the militarization of the nation-states across South Asia would be discussed in this module. The gendered nature of militarism and its impact on the social and cultural life of South Asia would be discussed in this module. The fact that South Asia is one of the most militarized zones in the world makes this discussion very pertinent- and hence the aim is to learn how the military is gendered on the one hand, and on how on the other hand it impacts gender relations in South Asia. The module will also seek to map the nature of feminist solidarities and resistance across South Asia to the scourge of militarism and violence- perpetrated both by state and non-state actors.

Assessment Details with weights:

  • First Assessment- Class test- 40%
  • Second Assessment- Critical Essay Writing – 40%
  • Third Assessment- Attendance and Class participation- 20%

Reading List:

First Module:

  1. Introduction by Paul R. Brass from Routledge Handbook of South Asian Politics, New York. 2010.
  2. Aminah Mohammad-Arif, Introduction. Imagination and Constructions of South Asia: An Enchanting Abstraction? South Asia Multidisciplinary Academic Journal (SAMAJ) 10 (2014)
  3. Introduction: Re-conceptualizing nation and Region in Modern South Asia. Kamala Viswesaran in Perspectives on Modern South Asia* (PMSA) Wiley- Blackwell. United Kingdom. 2011
  4. Manish Desai. Critical Cartography, Theories and Praxis of Transnational Feminisms. The Oxford Handbook of Transnational Feminist Movements. Edited by Rawwida Baksh and Wendy Harcourt. 2015

 

  1. Mrinalini Sinha. Gendered nationalism: from women to gender and back again? pp 13-27 in Routledge Handbook of Gender in South Asia. Edited by Leela Fernandes. 2014.
  2. Ritu Menon and Kamla Bhasin. Abducted Women, the State and Questions of Honor: Three Perspectives on the Recovery Operations in Post-Partition India. Pp 119-133. PMSA
  3. Naila Kabeer. The Quest for National Identity: women, Islam and the State in Bangladesh. Pp 139-153. PMSA
  4. Qadri Ismail. Contesting Nation, Contesting Nationalism: The Southern Tamil (Woman) and Separatist Tamil Nationalism in Sri Lanka, from the Subaltern Studies Volume XI. Ed Partha Chatterjee and Pradeep Jegannathan. Permanent Black, New Delhi. 2000.

Third Module:

  • Seira Tamang, The Politics of ‘Developing Nepali Women’. PMSA
  • Kanchana N. Ruwanpura, Global Governance initiatives and garment sector workers in Sri Lanka: tracing its gender and development politics. Routledge Handbook of Gender in South Asia. Edited by Leela Fernandes. 2014. Pp 2017-219
  • Smitha Radhakrishnan. Gendered opportunity and constraint in India’s IT industry: the problem of too much ‘headweight’. In Routledge Handbook of Gender in South Asia. Edited by Leela Fernandes. 2014. pp 234-246.
  • Lamia Karim. NGOs, State and neoliberal development in South Asia: the paradigmatic case of Bangladesh in a global perspective. Routledge Handbook of Gender in South Asia. Edited by Leela Fernandes. 2014. pp260-274

Fourth Module:

  • Mariz Tadros. From Secular Reductionism to Religious Essentialism: Implications for the Gender Agenda. The Oxford Handbook of Transnational Feminist Movements. Edited by Rawwida Baksh and Wendy Harcourt. 2015
  • Shail Mayaram. Being Hindu and Muslim in South Asia. PMSA. Pp 16-22.
  • Amrita Chhachhi The State, Religious Fundamentalism and women-Trends in South Asia, Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. 24, Issue No. 11, 18 Mar, 1989
  • Amrita Basu. Resisting the Sacred and the Secular, from Resisting the Sacred and the Secular by Patricia Jeffrey and Amrita Basu Eds, Kali for Women, New Delhi. 2001.
  • Farida Shaheed. Women’s Experiences of Identity, Religion and Activism in Pakistan from Resisting the Sacred and the Secular by Patricia Jeffrey and Amrita Basu Eds, Kali for Women, New Delhi. 2001
  • Saadia Toor. The Political Economy of moral regulation in Pakistan: religion, gender and class in postcolonial context. Routledge Handbook of Gender in South Asia. Edited by Leela Fernandes. 2014. pp 129-142

Fifth Module:

  • Amrita Chhachhi and Sunila Abeyasekera. Forging a New Political Imaginary: Transnational Southasian Feminisms. Routledge Handbook of Gender in South Asia. Edited by Leela Fernandes. 2014. pp 553-577
  • Sunila Abeyasekera. Social Movements, Feminist Movements and the State: A Regional Perspective.
  • Kamla Bhasin and Nigat Said Khan. Some Questions on Feminism and its Relevance in South Asia. Kali for Women, New Delhi. 1986.
  • Moon Charania. Feminism, sexuality and the rhetoric of Westernization in Pakistan: precarious citizenship. Routledge Handbook of Gender in South Asia. Edited by Leela Fernandes. 2014. pp 318-332

Sixth Module:

  • Linda Etchart. Demilitarizing the Global: Women’s Peace Movements and Transnational Networks. The Oxford Handbook of Transnational Feminist Movements. Edited by Rawwida Baksh and Wendy Harcourt. 2015
  • Seema Kazi. South Asia’s gendered ‘war on peace’. The Oxford Handbook of Transnational Feminist Movements. Edited by Rawwida Baksh and Wendy Harcourt. 2015
  • Sharika Thriangama. Female militancy: Reflections from Sri Lanka. Routledge Handbook of Gender in South Asia. Edited by Leela Fernandes. 2014. pp 115-128.
  • Rita Manchanda. Gender, Conflict and Displacement. EPW. September 11 2004.

ADDITIONAL REFERENCE:

  • Zubaan Series on Sexual Violence and Impunity in South Asia