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Guest Editor: Sudha Rao
The focus of this issue of Samyukta is Women and Education. The issue looks at education not from the limited angle of enrolment in classrooms and the obtaining of university degrees. On the other hand, education is looked at as the key to women’s empowerment. What the number emphasizes is the importance of gaining access to education. This has been a burning issue in a country like India where the denial of access to education, and thereby the larger domains of knowledge, was used to keep away major sections of society from the mainstream.
Guest Editor: Malashri Lal (English), Anamika (Northern Region), Alladi Uma (Southern Region), Sanjukta Dasgupta (Eastern Region) and Shirin Kudchedkar (Western Region)
This issue of Samyukta carries short stories in English and those translated into English from the regional languages of India. Quite a few major women writers of India are featured. The stories represent the best of women’s writing, which generally occupies the margins. By choosing to translate from the regional languages into English that enjoys a hegemonic status as a world language, issues of power are sought to be dealt with. The cultural nuances of the original are retained as far as possible. On occasions when English did not provide an equivalent, the original terms were used. These words were not highlighted or put in italics, as they were intended to enter the cultural landscape of the English language.
Guest Editor: Vibhuti Patel
What is the role of women in development? The answers are complex and manifold. It calls for a definition of the very concept of development and the nature of the roles that women play in the process. Women and Development, has demanded an in-depth inquiry from committed researchers, thinkers and practitioners at the national and global scale for nearly half a century. The underlying assumptions of development coupled with increasing centralization of management, have consistently eroded people’s control over their lives. They are carried away by the wave of the market and there is no room for choice to live according to their different worldviews, cultures and values. This issue of Samyukta tries to project the ideological underpinnings of the process of development as well as the fact that concepts and causes of development reflect the imbalance of power between nations and individuals rather than the presence or absence of resources.
Guest Editor: Ritu Menon
This issue of Samyukta is an attempt at looking forward by looking back on the last twenty-five years of the Indian Women’s Movement, and seeing where we stand today. It is not a comprehensive review by any means; it does not take into account every development, campaign or battle lost or won on the many fronts that women have fought; nor is it an enumeration of all the injustices that women have highlighted. Its modest objective is to bring together the critical thinking by practitioners and activists on the autonomous women’s movements in India in the present, the kind of periodic reflection that prompts an evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses; strategies and tactics; chapters that seem to have closed, and alliances that have opened up.
Guest Editor: Leela Gulati
The history of culture and development is also the culture of movement across continents. Men and Women have left their home shores in search of new opportunities or merely seeking adventure in new worlds. However, from the 1990s, a steady influx of people exploring economic opportunities have been witnessed. This has led to large scale transactions, not just in the economic front, but also in the social and cultural fronts. This development has lasting implications in the lives of women. The demographic transition that migration has brought in the wake of India opening up to the global economy is closely studied in this number of Samyukta. Its impact on the lives of women is also looked into.
Guest Editor: Sreedevi K. Nair
This number carries vignettes of women writers’ lives. It examines the play of stereotypes that recurs in what women write. But is this all to women’s writing? Women’s writing is a quarrel with the language. It enjoins pushing the language and form to their limits to carry the weight of womanly experiences. It demands letting the body speak. There is a raw aesthetic that colours the voice of women in writing. It aims at undoing the stability that final statements afford. It compels readers to rethink the idea of boundaries, and to question both the ‘centre’ and the ‘margin’. Women’s writing is also about relationships – relationships that shape and unshape their unique world of experience; the interiority of language and the self; giving expression to the spoken and the unspoken.
Guest Editor: Bini B. S. and Koshi Tharakan
This number examines health as an enigma. Human beings are susceptible to various degrees and kinds of maladies, real and metaphoric, which they dread and try to overcome. By engaging in a process of reflecting, researching upon and observing the psycho-somatic tangle of illness and wellness, one may comfortably dwell in an illusion of being able to grapple with the complex phenomena of health, at least conceptually. Still, there are moments when health as a concept and as an experience teases and dodges us; so does illness. The reason why much has been said and written about ailments and wellness perhaps points to the enigmatic nature of ‘health’ in particular, and psycho-somatic experiences and cultural mechanisms around our corporeal-psychological life-worlds in general. Despite the obsession with health in the contemporary cultures, wherein one feels complacent amidst diverse technological and ‘spiritual’ means that assure physical and mental ‘fitness’, sanity and longevity, health still ‘evades’ us.
Guest Editor: Veena Poonacha
This edition of Samyukta focuses on stories of courage and social transformation from across four states of India. Although largely drawn from research into the Self-Help Group movement in Karnataka, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu, the volume also includes heart- warming stories by women. The ways in which women were able to use their collective strength to resist caste and patriarchal oppression, demands theoretical and empirical study. It seems that organising women into collectives is a cost effective means of enabling them to resist multiple oppression. Apart from a deep respect for the courage and resilience of poor women, the encounters narrated in this number records a deep sense of appreciation of the immense potential of the Self Help Group movement to initiate socio-economic transformation.
Guest Editor: Rajesh V. Nair
The term life writing refers to a wide range of materials of self-inscription and self-representation, which includes autobiographies, biographies, life histories, diaries, memoirs, letters and journals. The existence of life writing material can be traced as far back as the ancient Greek and Roman civilisations; autobiography – undoubtedly the most popular form of self-referential writings – came into trend with St. Augustine’s Confessions. However, the intervention of Marxist, poststructuralist and postmodern theories and cultural studies have added new dimensions to it. This number looks at how life writing has evolved into a highly politicised mode of inscribing human identity as people from different segments of the society to get an opportunity to make their voice heard and articulate their subjectivity.
Guest Editor: Ilina Sen and Ranjana Padhi
The timing of this collection coincides with a time when fundamentalist ideologies, neoliberal policies and the march of corporate capital dominate the landscape in many countries including ours. The neo liberal development paradigm has been studied, critiqued and has borne the scrutiny of many scholars, writers and activists. In the current political and economic scenario, there is a need to understand the impact of the policies of the control of resources and politics of exclusion with a feminist perspective as changes happening rapidly at the ground level demand the scrutiny and revisiting of many of our assumptions regarding feminist practice in addressing women’s subordination. This number looks into the details of the control over resources and the politics of exclusion that women bear the brunt of.
Guest Editor: N.Sasidharan
Along with other articles, Samyukta brings to light a study on socio-radicalism in Kerala. It gives a detailed analysis of the evolution of radicalism in Kerala in the second half of the 19th century. It examines in detail, with corroborative evidence painstakingly collected, how the Communist Party of India (Marxist) could place itself at the vanguard of radicalism in Kerala by skilful management of the socio-economic and political situations in the state, and by systematically building up its mass base from the 1930s. The importance of this number is that it brings to public attention, valuable details on the formation of the Communist party, which would otherwise have been lost.
Guest Editor: Bini B. S. and P.J.Thomas
The idea of beauty has fascinated philosophers and poets alike. This number of Samyukta provides an occasion to ponder over the enigma of beauty. Drawing from Elaine Scarring’s On Beauty and Being Just, the number examines beauty in the abstract, and the numerous manifestations of beauty that have remained with us since the earlier times. It varies across cultures and is often determined by ethical consideration. The culturally specific nature of beauty is also considered in this number which largely focuses on the universal principles governing ideas of beauty and the aesthetic principles drawn from it.
Guest Editor: Imrana Qadeer and Arathi P.M
Women’s studies have over the time influenced other disciplines substantially. The experience of these disciplines can be equated to a process of osmosis in which the permeable boundary of disciplines allows for the penetration of ideas from one side to the other. Through a prolonged process of debate and interdisciplinary studies, Women’s Studies has enriched and enhanced the sensitivities, the content and the debates within social science disciplines through confronting them with issues such as patriarchy and gender. It raises the issue that there is a gender quotient in research formulations and analyses, which are male centred, in health-related issues. This number looks at the social dynamics of women’s health in India from this perspective.
Guest Editor: Rizio Yohannan Raj
Preceding the celebration of the female drive and talent in English publishing in India was an age that saw publishing as a gentleman’s game, as many Indian languages still do in our times. It is against this his-story of Indian Publishing in English that the wave of enlightenment ushered in the ‘cult of the woman’ into both multinational and independent publishing. Alternative publishing, acquires academic relevance and cultural significance, as English is privileged as the most effective language of exchange in academia. A cursory survey would show that women’s writings and writings on women’s issues in this country have blossomed as never before in the past four decades, and that this owes much to the active presence of women in the publishing enterprises in India. This issue seeks to throw light on the forces behind the recent emergence of women power in English, and at times the multi-lingual publishing in India hinting at the need for a more exhaustive attempt that might reveal the engagement of women in Indian publishing, the beginnings of which could be traced back to more than a century.
Guest Editor: Uma Chakravarti and Shad Naved
This selection is an attempt to approach ‘women’s writing’ from a supra-national(ist), non-regionalist, and non-periphalist perspective of South Asia. South Asia is a salient horizon of interpretation and politics in the subcontinent, whose history has been violently delimited by the partitioning of national cultures and societies. While it may sound like another anodyne category to combat Orientalist ethnocentrism, South Asia offers a socio-historical vista which can be understood as an imaginary for writers of various political and temperamental hues. The accumulation of women’s perspectives on historical processes which are now at least a century old alerts us to the development of a writing and intellectual tradition that we must call ‘feminist’, and it may include men too. Due to the nature of women’s oppression in South Asia, abetted and endorsed by the nation-state, women’s writing has thematically engaged with the question of the nation and its boundaries.
Guest Editor: Sneja Gunew
The number examines contemporary traditions of Affect Theory and finds them indebted to clinical psychology as well as psychoanalysis and more recently, in particular, the philosophy of Gilles Deleuze which introduced a new fluidity into conceptual apparatuses. We have also looked at alternative taxonomies to those deriving from the European traditions inspired by inputs from cultural anthropology. In addition, we have tried to factor in the particular nature of traditions emanating from India. In the western system, the catharsis we experience in the theatre is supposed to ‘purge us of pity and terror’. There may be affinities with rasa in this respect and the papers collected in this number point to the need for a more nuanced understanding of affect. This needs to be disentangled with further scholarship and discussion from the complex state of interconnectedness that we presently find these theories in.
Guest Editor: Arya Madhavan
The Samyukta special issue contextualizes the performance traditions of women in India against the global background. Indian performance practice has been an active area of study among theatre scholars and practitioners all over the world for several decades, exerting substantial influence on the contemporary performance practices and actor-training methods. Nevertheless, critical debates and studies that aim at investigating and reassessing the role of women and their contribution to artistic practices in the Indian performance scene are relatively limited. Recent critical works have made significant contributions in this context. Given the fact that Indian performances are broad and varied in number and style, such studies only marginally address the place and contribution of women in Indian performances. Critical work generating a more comprehensive view on women in Indian performances and mapping a broader territory in this relation is indeed necessary and this special issue is an attempt in that direction.
Guest Editor: Margot Badran
This special issue of Samyukta on ‘Islamic feminism’ brings together the work of scholars and activists from across the globe on a phenomenon that continues to excite interest and generate polemics since it first appeared on the horizon three decades ago. Controversy started with the term Islamic feminism itself which was used to designate a discourse of gender equality and social justice grounded in the re-readings of the Qur’an and other Islamic sources that religiously informed Muslim women scholars and intellectuals who were articulating these ideas in the final decades of the twentieth century. Islamic feminism was not named as such by the Muslim women who initiated the new discourse but by Muslim women writers, journalists, scholars and public intellectuals who were ‘secular’ in their outlook and who began to observe with interest the emergent gender-egalitarian discourse of Islam. This issue carries articles written by established scholars of Islamic feminism from across the globe.
Guest Editor: Varsha Basheer
There has been a rich repertoire of creative writing by women in the Islamic world since the earliest times. But they were generally taken to be non-gendered narratives like the one we find in the Arabian Nights. However, recent criticism has unravelled the gender tenor of such chains of stories. This number on creative writing from Islamic world tries to link the present with the rich history of women’s writing that has mostly circulated as oral narratives. The present selection has a contemporary tone hinting at a critique of positions adopted by patriarchy in an oblique manner. We have included selections from poetry, fiction and interviews to give a taste of writing by the younger brigade in the Islamic world at present. They are uncompromising in their political positions, which may sometimes strike us as jarring. But they are not hesitant to state that it is their credo and they will state it loud.
Guest Editor: Bini B. S.
In this number, we are presenting before the poetry loving audience, a selection of the works of contemporary writers. Moving away from the traditional, these poets experiment with form and content, almost driving language to the brinks. The reader is encouraged to invest new meanings to texts and is often required to read between the lines to arrive at what the poet may have meant. This is the challenge of the poetry of the present, subverting the conventional and the traditional. It is our hope that this collection will open a new path in the enjoyment of poems in contemporary English.
Guest Editor: Bini B. S.
The set of poems in this number is about freedom and liberation written in a manner that is more realistic, down to earth and closer to everyday life than poetry of the earlier times. They are bold and do not hesitate to take positions to counter our notions of self, respectability and shame. They push the margins of language and urge us to think of the here and the now. They are written in a way that questions the abstract and the transcendental. They are fiercely body centric, and they give expression to the primary carnal desires of men and women. Only poetry can show us this state of anger, angst and desire as we read here in poem after poem.
Guest Editor: Sonya J Nair
This issue of Samyukta: A Journal of Gender and Culture reads into the themes of representation and memory. The theories of representation, in their complexities of inheritance, subjectivity, politics of participation and possible co-opting opens up very interesting discussions on the ways that power works itself into the networks of everyday life processes. The papers here range from the rarely discussed subaltern experiences of Kashmiri women to an understanding of the theories of Trauma. Their negotiations with history and the political upheavals in the Valley shares a bond with similar struggles across the globe. These conversations resonate in the experiences of the refugees and the most vulnerable in the society. This is why reading resistance in the works of Raj Rao adds a new dimension as does the analysis of the Femme Fatale figure in cinema. This issue of the journal distils the essence of what it means to carry various identity markers in this hyper-partisan, post-truth, hyphenated narrative that we call our world. Through the resistances presented by these voices, it is hoped that all that is not being said can still be heard and reacted to.
Guest editor: S. Devika
In this number we include a wide spectrum of articles on writers old and new from India and from outside the country. Some of them are avowed feminists whereas others have taken a position critiquing the ideological positions taken by other women writers chosen for study. Prepared by the younger generation of scholars, the collection throws light on their preferences and critical positions. It is our hope that this collection will encourage studies in contemporary fiction in English from new and not so widely explored theoretical positions.
Guest editor: P.K. Sreekumar & Priya Jose K.
This collection of essays and translations from authentic sources that record a unique event in the history of Kerala has great historical significance. The ritual trial of Kuriyedathu Thathri in 1905 marked a paradigm shift in relations of gender and equations of power in Kerala. It led to a cleaning up of the closed echelons within the Namboodiri community, blowing out the stale and blowing in the fresh air. The clean-up that this led to had its implications for the rest of the society as well. This number carries translations of the records of this event so that misconceptions regarding its conduct and misreadings regarding its repercussions can be corrected. There are also original essays which take cognizance of the Thathri ‘event’. It is our hope that this number will afford a relook at bygone days and effect a reassessment of events from the perspective of the contemporary. The nature of history is such that revisiting it every decade or so factoring in the thinking of the times will help us to revitalize our life practices. Viewed in this light, Thathri will remain a beacon for future gen
Guest editor: Arya Aiyappan
Popular culture, a post-industrial commercial phenomenon intersects every aspect of life, categorized trivial or otherwise. A medium for mass consumption, rooted in a particular class consciousness and embodied through popular practices and traditions, they form an inseparable part of the social whole. Enmeshed in a constant tussle with dominant culture while oscillating between forces of containment and resistance, popular culture represents the ingenious expressions of ordinary people and non-canonical creations that do not find a place in the body of acclaimed works of art. Resisting the canonizing cultural forces segregating high and low culture, popular culture is slowly effacing the boundaries. It serves to advance social concerns and functions as catalysts for raising social consciousness and effecting social changes. The focus on the unconventional and the commonplace makes popular culture an ideal site for locating sympathies to the disenfranchised sections. Fast emerging as a viable art form, deserving more critical esteem than is currently attributed, it is not just as a medium for mass consumption catering to popular demands and commercial needs. Popular culture’s role as anti-culture can be used in subversive strategies to alter disparities in power relations by dismantling the systems that perpetuate oppressive ideologies. The current issue of Samyukta: A Journal of Gender and Culture looks into an eclectic range of articles that look into multiple facets of popular culture through diverse intersecting fields and perspectives. From Harry Potter, Malayalam periodicals, Boban and Molly to culinary journeys, Bhang and the cyborg player the issue maps the emerging ideologies of resistance and assimilation which constantly re-negotiates the space ‘popular culture’.
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