Public lecture by Professor M. Asaduddin, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi, India. Free and open to the public.
Women’s writing in India, though begun in the late nineteenth century, came into its own in the latter half of the twentieth century. For centuries, women in literature and other arts have been represented by men from a male perspective. This perspective was characterized by patriarchy that devised and supported age-old customs and traditions that were heavily stacked against women. Religions and faith systems, too, were complicit in the subjugation of women in society. Women’s individuality, identity and agency are questions that have required a long history of struggle to be discussed and debated in academic circles.
Literary genres like short stories, novels, and autobiographies by South Asian women offer unique insight into the history of gender struggle, the making of the female self, family as both a supportive and oppressive institution and economic independence as a necessary component of social empowerment. Women writers mobilize the category of gender to define alternative understandings of “individual” and “community”. They explore women’s voices and “agency” in a society where strict behavioural conformity was/ is expected of women and any deviation from it is often seen as deviance and transgression.
The lecture will trace the intersections between gender, caste, class, religion, and sexuality in women’s fiction and non-fiction in several South Asian languages.