“An Unfinished Story: The Representation of Adivasis in Indian Feminist Literature”

An unfinished story: The representation of adivasis in Indian feminist literature

I got my third journal article published! This one has been in press for a very, very long time, so good to see it finally off my hands!

It’s in the journal Contemporary South Asia (vol. 20, issue 3) which is not an open-access journal, you’ll need a library subscription to see this one.

But here is the abstract:

Contemporary Indian feminism is concerned with a number of social justice issues, including the circumstances under which ‘adivasis’ or tribal people, live. India has a large body of work on these peoples, but much of this romanticises them and fails to treat them as the inhabitants of a modern, industrial and globalising India. In this article, I discuss two works published by Indian feminist presses that provide new and alternative ways of representing adivasis. Anita Agnihotri’sForest Interludes: A Collection of Journals and Fiction is a multi-genre collection that reflects the author’s time spent as an IAS officer in adivasi regions of eastern India. Agnihotri plays the dual role of privileged outsider and informed insider, which lends her narrative a forceful authority. Bhaskaran’s life story of the Keralite adivasi activist C.K. Janu, Mother Forest: The Unfinished Story of C.K. Janu, attempts to present adivasi politics as relevant to modern India, yet the formal structuring of the text and the stylistic choices made by the translator and editors undercuts this. Both Forest Interludes and Mother Forest contain formal and stylistic innovations and, though not without problems, they represent a promising departure from traditional literary representations of adivasis – a departure that situates these subaltern peoples within a more contemporary discursive field.

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Travel writer at www.wildernessmetropolis.com. Editor, writer, traveller, reader, literary critic.

3 thoughts on ““An Unfinished Story: The Representation of Adivasis in Indian Feminist Literature””

  1. I read your paper, very interesting indeed. What I am interested to know as a follow-up, a question that has been bothering me for sometime, maybe you might want to take a shot at it. You briefly mentioned in you essay but never really followed up on, is why do you think so many Indian “Intellectuals” are so anti Globalization, left leaning and socialistic in nature and outlook? What part British colonization play in this way of thinking and why its is still persisting in the face of opposing evidence of “growth” in India. I mean Vandana Shiva and Arundhati Roy might be brilliant in their own fields, Physics and writing novels, respectively, but when they discuss Economics is doesn’t really make one bit of sense. I mean, I am am economist in training, but I don’t generally see Economists theorizing and opening on how this universe works or the literary merits of a novel. What really surprised me is that the publication Kali and its later followup firm, that abhors “Globalization” but has no problem selling books to Americans and a larger readership in general in USD (at least the website says so). Just to give a little background about me, I am a doctoral student in financial economics and I am Indian but pursuing my studies outside India (perhaps that could give you a little context about my question).

    1. Thanks for reading my paper 🙂 Yes, this is a complex question. And I can’t say too much, without giving part of my soon-to-be-completed thesis away! 😉 No, I only spend a bit of time talking about this. As for why many Indian intellectuals are left-leaning and socialist in nature, well, I think the Nehruvian (and Gandhian) legacy has a lot to do with this. Even if contemporary India has moved on from these concepts in many ways, the ideas of secularism and social justice have strong links to these modes of thought. As for the contradictions of (anti-)globalisation- well, there never seems to be any consistency in ideas related to globalisation, does there!? Taking the example of Kali for Women, as this was the example you used, there may be certain aspects of the globalised world economy and liberalisation that such intellectuals are ideologically opposed to, but then there are other parts of the system that they might feel need to be utilised. Ie, as a book publisher, it may be detrimental to completely cut oneself off from international flows of capital, because then how would one’s books and messages spread? There is inconsistency for sure, but I don’t think this is altogether a negative thing. It remains necessary to critique the system, even if one is inextricably part of it.

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