ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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We Are Afraid of Calcutta

Cultural narratives of Calcutta (Kolkata) are codified through cinema and literature, othering and invisibilising other parts of Bengal.

 

Taangh: Longing—For Whom and for What?

Bani Singh’s documentary film Taangh is a personal homage as well as the coming together of unknown stories about India’s hockey gold medal in the 1948 London Olympics.

Re-Casteing the Narrative of Bharatanatyam

In this article, the author highlights the ways in which her subjectivity and selfhood as a hereditary Bahujan woman practitioner of Bharatanatyam are entangled with the past and with an enduring and dark politics of exclusion in the industry of so-called “classical” music and dance. Bharatanatyam—India’s quintessential “classical” art—has today, understandably become a vehicle for theatrical representations of Hindu mythology, Brahminic ethics and supremacy, and thus for majoritarian cultural politics. The author reflects on the practice and connotations of Bharatanatyam that are accepted today and historically embedded with the ugly truth of caste mimesis, the inheritance of appropriation, the danger of religious majoritarian culture, and the silencing of voices of dissent.

Urbanism, Consumerism, and Culture

Haryanvi sensibilities have been conspicuous by their absence on the silver screen. For the first time, a credible space is accorded to them in Bollywood cinema through two films—Gurgaon (2015) and NH10 (2015). These two films massively score in their portrayal of the locale, inhabitants, and culture of Haryana. This paper analyses both these films in the context of present-day Haryana to show how they succeed in highlighting the transitional phase and travails of this state.

 

Governing Sacred Groves

Sacred groves are widely recognised for their religious, cultural, and ecological value. They are an intrinsic part of traditional and indigenous practices of forest governance. However, the contemporary sacred forest system is not an autonomous world. Its sociopolitical landscape is not confined only to the village either. Based on extensive fieldwork in Jharkhand, this paper argues that sacred groves have evolved to be dynamic spaces of multilevel institutional interactions and contestations. Their conservation is contingent on the intersectional dynamics of indigenous, state, and institutional processes. Classical approaches of sacrality of the nature and forms of forest worship need to be combined with the concerns of the local environment, democracy, gender, caste, conservation, and culture.

 

The Art of the Oppressed

Most mainstream films that centre caste have, even if unknowingly, not understood the historical roots and cultural background of Dalits.

 

Striving for Begumpura: Traversing the Intellectual Activism of Gail Omvedt

​Writer, researcher, life-long fellow traveller of the progressive movements and long-time author with the Economic & Political Weekly, Gail Omvedt passed away on 25 August 2021. In this reading list, we present some of the highlights of her scholarship published in EPW.

Gift or Bribe?

What distinguishes the delightful act of gift-bearing from the crime of giving a bribe?

Roars of Dalit Audacity

Moustache, a scathing commentary on Brahminical ritual purity, tells the story of a Dalit protagonist with the “audacity” for bodily grooming.

 

End of the Postcolonial State

Much of the scholarship on Bangladesh’s founding places it within a narrative of repetition. It either repeats the partitions of 1905 or 1947 or the creation of India and Pakistan as postcolonial states. This paper argues instead for the novelty of Bangladesh’s creation against the postcolonial state, suggesting that it opened up a new history at the global level in which decolonisation was replaced by civil war as the founding narrative for new states.

 

Beyond the Break with the Past

In the 1940s, Bengali Muslim intellectuals sought to find a new autonomy in a comprehensive break with the texts and language of the Hindu-dominated literature of the “Bengal Renaissance.” But within a few years of Pakistan’s founding, a new generation argued that disavowing the past was not libe

Collision amid Collusion and Cooperation

This paper examines the history of largely understudied women’s rights activists in the early years of East Pakistan. While they collided with West Pakistani activists—and the central state—on matters of culture, identity, and political and economic issues, they actively cooperated with West Pakistani counterparts to fight gender discrimination and to demand reform in women’s rights from the state.

 

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