Tejaswini Niranjana is a co-founder of the Centre for the Study of Culture and Society in Bangalore, Visiting Professor at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Mumbai, and Distinguished Adjunct Professor of the Humanities at Lingnan University, Hong Kong.
This talk is moderated by Rosalind Morris, Professor of Anthropology and ICLS Affiliated Faculty, Columbia University.
A heightened awareness about the need for ‘safety’ and of the violence of urban spaces is a key feature of discussions about women in 21st century India.
The discourse of harassment is central to a renewed sense of victimhood which leads feminist groups and policy-makers alike to propose ever more elaborate modes of protection. The opening up of opportunities for women and men in the post-liberalization period cuts across the class-caste spectrum, but this also seems to expand the opportunities for violent gendered interaction prompted by the idea of the ‘new woman’ unfettered by restrictions on her mobility or her clothing. The concern with violence and safety appears to have become the dominant response to neo-liberal globalization, even as the commodity fantasies of late capitalism fuel women’s experimentation with how they look and behave. In the clamour about safety, we lose the sense of how women and social transformation are being linked together, how the connections between culture and gender are being re-articulated, and how desire is being reorganised.
This presentation is based on recent research done in the southern city of Bangalore in which women drawn from four sectors – higher education, the information technology (IT) industry, organized politics and NGOs – were interviewed. The idea is to see how in the process of ‘becoming-woman’ in the age of globalization we can glimpse a larger landscape, where – as Deleuze and Guattari put it – “The individual concern … becomes all the more necessary, indispensable, magnified, because a whole other story is vibrating within it”.
Co-sponsored by Institute for Research on Women, Gender, and Sexuality, and the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society
Kathryn Babayan (Associate Professor of History, Directory of Armenian Studies Program, University of Michigan); co-sponsored with MEI and MESAAS
Abstract: The talk will employ the poetic form of the shahrashub, literally the “city disturbance,” to visualize seventeenth Isfahan. Isfahan is both the city where the author, Aqa Mansur, composes his guidebook as well as the site through which he represents a masculine space for a lover-friend to learn about the urban rules and etiquette of love. Forlorn men are the audience invited to travel, observe and discover a cityscape of masculine sensual pleasures. Our guide simultaneously configures the rituals of urbane masculinity to fashion a spectatorship of refined male gazers, just as he creates Isfahan the city discursively. I will walk you through the travelogue to see how Aqa Mansur’s knowledge of sexuality, gender, and community are conceptualized and woven together to picture Isfahan.
Svati Shah, Anthropologist and Associate Professor of Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies at the University of Massachusetts - Amherst
event co-sponsored with ICLS and Heyman Center
Allochronism, Space and Sexuality in India: Cities, Sex Workers, and LGBTQ Subjects
Over the past decade, a sea change has occurred in discourses of sexuality throughout the Global South. In this presentation, I review this set of changes in India, by focusing on sex worker, transgender and queer spatial politics as they have been unfolding in Indian cities, in media, and in the law. These transformations may ostensibly be read through the rubric of modernity, in that, if sex workers have been subject to ‘temporal distancing’ through erasure, then gay and transgender rights are increasingly framed as signs of the times. The rising discursive legibility of gay, lesbian and transgender subjects, in particular, has been acute in the wake of a stalled national campaign to decriminalize “unnatural sexual practices.” Here, I suggest that, while the familiar frame of 'modernity and its Other' is useful for understanding some of the new juridical and other discursive regimes of sexuality being produced in South Asia, these rubrics must, in their turn, be read through the twinned lenses of migration and temporality. My argument takes up Benjamin’s assertion in his essay on translation, that “In the final analysis, the range of life must be determined by history rather than by nature, least of all by such tenuous factors as sensation and soul.” I contend that, by considering the question of modernity alone, the discourse of sexuality has risked being read as biologized constraint. Countermanding this propensity requires concomitant attention to a materialist history of sexuality, and specifically to how, where and why discourses of sexuality have moved, and to what effect.
Professor Rosi Braidotti (Columbia University Visiting Professor, Distinguished University Professor at Utrecht University and founding Director of the Centre for the Humanities)
Rosi Braidotti is an incredibly influential contemporary philosopher and feminist. She is largely heralded as pioneer of European Women's Studies.
This lecture will address the so-called ‘post-human’ turn in contemporary feminist theory in the light of three main considerations: firstly the shifting perception and understanding of ‘the human’ in the Life sciences. Secondly the effects of globalization as a system that functions by instilling process of ‘timeless time’ and perverse, multiple time-lines. Thirdly, the impact of inhuman factors like wars and conflicts in contemporary governmentality and the new forms of discrimination they engender on a planetary scale. Last but not least, lecture examines the implications of this historical context for progressive, affirmative politics in general and gender and feminist issues in particular.