By Irene Gedalof
This pioneering quantity reviews the paintings of 4 eminent western feminists - Rosi Bradiotti, Judith Butler, Donna Haraway and Luce Irigaray - and explores the connection among Indian and white western feminism. Pt. I. Indian problems. 1. ladies and group identities in Indian feminisms. 2. corporation, the self and the collective in Indian feminisms -- Pt. II. White Western feminisms and id. three. Luce/loose connections: Luce Irigaray, sexual distinction, race and kingdom. four. woman hassle: Judith Butler and the destabilisation of sex/gender. five. 'All that counts is the going': Rosi Braidotti's nomadic topic. 6. Donna Haraway's promising monsters -- Pt. III. opposed to purity. 7. strength, id and impure areas. eight. Theorising girls in a postcolonial mode
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Extra resources for Against Purity: Rethinking Identity with Indian and Western Feminisms (Gender, Racism, Ethnicity)
Norms of nationhood and womanhood emerge and vie for legitimacy as colonial interests and Indian national supporters and opponents of sati sift through, classify, selectively discount and confirm aspects of the past. What does the widow’s burning body say? For the colonialist it becomes evidence of a norm of nationhood that does not deserve to rule itself, and that must be replaced with new, Western norms. For the nationalist opponent of sati, it signifies the need to restore to purity a debased and distorted tradition that has been imposed by mis-readers of the scriptures.
But equally, contestations over definitions of the feminine, over the norms and ideals invested in ‘Woman’, and over the meanings to be read into women’s activities and feminised spheres of social life were to bear enormous symbolic weight in the emerging versions of the postcolonial Indian nation. The second moment of particular significance is the more recent rise of Hindu-Muslim communalism1 in the 1980s and 1990s. Here again, both the political and the cultural focus are not directly, or not at first glance, on issues of gender or sexual difference.
In my interpretations of the material I have selected, therefore, I try to identify distinctions between ‘Woman’ and ‘women’, and between the female and the feminine. Building on the Foucauldian framework established in the Introduction, I work with a sense of multiple discursive systems, rather than a single Symbolic order; thus I am also concerned to identify the different versions of ‘Woman’ and ‘women’ at play in identity-constitution processes. I am, therefore, interested in showing how (specific and limited) groups of women are being discursively and strategically positioned.