December 11, 2005

Preparing course materials regarding women in South Asia

I have recently read "Women in Modern India" by Geraldine Forbes. The book is about the South Asia Women.

I have developed better perception after reading this book. The author has discussed different perspectives which I think is relevant to the need of preparing a course material regarding women in South Asia.

I would like to stress on the Bibliographic Essay in her book. It is really exhaustive and quite comprehensive. The author has discussed various problems and limitation about the primary sources throughout the book and also in the Essay. She has commented upon most readily available sources except the diaries and personal letters which she claims that she was fortunate to read but not available now. I think the essay spread over 26 page from 255 to 281of 2004 may be of great help to you. The author has covered it for the period from 1800 to 1990.

I am writing about this book on my blog at Similarly, after having developed a substantial perspective on Gender studies I intent to write some write-ups on this blog.

The above book has given me a better understanding of social history. I am still fighting to learn and define the social history. This book has given me a perspective about another oppressed section in Indian and South Asian society. Earlier I had rigid view of such a study but this book has helped me to see women as a section in a society which forms a group and deserves historic evaluation with an independent perceptive. Earlier I used to view them as it was studied by sociologist and viewed their feministic slogans with great reservation. However, now I feel, that as a student of history, I must study and develop my understanding of women as a social group which plays a role in History. Anyhow, I may write about such things separately.

As far the films are concerned I am unable to recollect the names of some of films but I can recollect that the main characters of three leading films on women in India were played by Indian Actress Shabana Azmi. Shabana Azmi is also associated with Women Reservation Bill and many organizations concerned with women upliftment. One of the film was directed by Shyama Benegal in which social milieu in a village has been portrayed in a realistic manner. The other film is about a God Mother, a woman Don in Rajasthan social background. The other film I remember is Rudali in which the main character was played by Dimple Kapadia.

Another movie which I understand, can depict the village life and a struggle of a woman in patriarchal is the famous commercial movie "Mother India" in which the central character is played by Late Nargis Dutt. The turmoil through which she passes is creation of Indian socio-economic realities and also "cultural hegemony" of its kind which is hall mark of Indian traditional society. The problems of the main character begin when her husband becomes a wanderer and the village is visited by a drought. The struggle of the Indian woman to feed her two sons and save herself from the lecherous custodians of traditions and economic practices is well depicted though with the tinge of commercial cinema.

For the time being I will like to add here a link Women in India. Many of the comments on this website are biased but I have been learning many things from here.

I am also reproducing below the syllabus of Post Graduate Course as being taught at Punjab University Chandigarh, India. I hope the topics and the essential reading and reference reading will be useful. However, all the books suggested below have been commented upon by Forbes in her Bibliographic Essay suggested above.

Gender Relations in Modern India

Unit I
1. Historiography of Gender Relations: Basic Concepts; Research Methodology; Perspectives – Liberal, Radical, Marxist, Socialist and Nationalist.
2. Position of Women in Pre – Colonial India: Structures of Patriarchy; Legal Position of Women; Women in Family and Society.
3. Socio-Economic Position in Colonial India: Social Reformers – agenda; Education and Literacy; Economic position.

Unit II
4. Women and Law in Colonial State: Customary law; State Legislation; the development of personal laws.
5. Organisation and Struggle: Women’s organizations; Women’s Participation in the Nationalist Movement; Women Activists.
6. Indian Thinkers on Women Issues: Revivalist thinkers; Radical Thinkers; Gandhi on Women.

Unit III
7. Development of Women’s Movement in Post Independence: Theoretical approaches to the movement; Structure of the Indian Women’s Movement; New Phase in Feminist Movement – its Ideology.
8. Role of the State: Education and Change; Legislation on Women’s issues.
9. Constitutional Provisions and Changes ; Struggle for rights of Women; Rural Movements; dalit women’s struggle; resources and structure of urban empowerment.

Unit IV
10. Economic Position of Women in Independent India: Role of Women in Indian Economy; Women in organised and unorganised sectors, Women and Environment.
11. Post Independence Strategies: Women in panchayti raj; Political Participation of Women in Legislatures; Media and Women.
12. Continuity and Change : Changing status of women; violence against women; gender equality-different agendas.

Essential Readings:

1. B. R. Nanda (ed.), Purdah to Modernity.
2. J. Krishnamurthy, Women in Colonial India – Essay on Survival, Works and the State.
3. Jana Matson Everett, Women and Social Change in India
4. Janaki Nair, Women and Law in Colonial India : A Social History.
5. Kiran Pawar (ed.), Women in Indian History.
6. Kumkum Sangari and Sudesh Vaid (eds.) Recasting Women.
7. Nandita Gandhi and Nadita Shah, The Issues at Stake Theory and Preactice in the Contemporary Women Movement in India.
8. Neera Desai and Maithreyi Krishnaraj, Women and Society in India.
9. Partha Chatterjee, The Nation and its Fragments, Colonial and Post Colnial Histories.
10. Radha Kumar, The History of Doing : An Illustrated Account of Movements for Women’s Rights and Feminism in India 1800-1990.
11. Ranjana Sheel, The Political Economy of Dowry, Institutionalization and Expansion in North India.
12. S. A. Chatterjee, The Indian Women in Perspective.
13. Tanika Sarkar and Urvashi Butalia (eds.), Women and the Hindu Right, A Collection of Essays.
14. V. Dhruvrajan, Hindu Women and Power of Ideology.

Reference Readings:

1. Altekar, A. S., The Position of Women in Hindu Civilization : Retrospect and Prospect.
2. Altekar A. S., Vijay Agnew, Elite Women in Indian Politics.
3. Bina Aggarwal, Structures of Patriarchy: State Community and Household in Modernising Asia
4. Bharati Ray, Early Feminists in India.
5. Bharati Ray and Aparna Basu (eds.), From Independence Towards Freedom, Indian Women Since 1947.
6. Das, Veena, Indian Women : Work, Power and States in B. R. Nanda (ed.), Indian Women From Purdah to Modernity.
7. Dorix, R. Jakobsh, Relocating Gender in Sikh History – Transformation, Meaning and Identity,
8. Gail Omvedt, Reinventing Revolution.
9. G. Leela Kasturi and Vina Majumdar (eds.), Women and Indian Nationalism.
10. Leslie J. Calman, Towards Empowerment, Women and Movement of Politics in India.
11. M. Mazheruddin Siddiqui, Women in Islam.
12. P. Mukherjee, Hindu Women Normative Models.
13. Patrica Uberoi, Family, Kinship and Marriage in India.
14. Rehmani Begum, Sir Syed Ahmed Khan.
15. Vandana Shiva, Staying Alive : Women Ecology and Survival in India.
16. Vina Mazumdar (ed.), Symbols of Power : Studies on the Political Status of Women in India.

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