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VOLUME 6, NUMBER 1       BACK TO VOLUMES

Gender, Nation, and Globalization in Diwale Dulhania Le Jayenge and Monsoon Wedding
Jenny Sharpe

This essay locates Mira Nair’s Monsoon Wedding within a discourse of nation by reading it as a feminist response to the sugar-coated family melodramas that have dominated popular Bombay cinema (known as Bollywood) since the 1990s. It examines how, on the one hand, a Bollywood film like Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge appropriates feminist values in the service of constituting Indian tradition and, on the other, a diasporic feminist film like Monsoon Wedding introduces female sexual desire into the family melodrama formula. It demonstrates that the cinematic staging of Indian tradition through transnational cultural hybridities relies on a female subject who is simultaneously modern and traditional, Westernized and Indian. Nair invokes this recognizable figure in her film in order to reinvent her as a desiring agent. However, her enactment of female sexual agency splits femininity along class lines. The Bollywood conventions in the parallel love plot between an upwardly-mobile Hindu man and a Christian woman of the servant class reveals the limits of Nair’s critical intervention into the gender politics of Bombay cinema.

 

Feminist Negotiations: Contesting Narratives of the Campaign Against Anti- Violence in Bangladesh
Elora Halim Chowhury

This paper aims to trace the complex trajectory of the anti acid violence campaign in Bangladesh during the years of 1993 – 2003. The development of this campaign began with the efforts of a group of Bangldeshi women working under the auspices of the women’s advocacy group called Naripokkho to turn incidents of acid throwing against women and girls in Bangladesh into a concerted public campaign by mobilizing key players at the national and international levels and making strategic alliances with them.
The expansion of the campaign over time as a result of the diversification of actors involved – at the national and international levels – not only invoked concerted efforts by varying institutions to assist acid survivors, but also some unintended consequences.

It is my contention that by 2003, the success of the campaign against acid violence in Bangladesh can be measured by the creation of an independent coordinating service providing body called the Acid Survivors Foundation (ASF) founded and financed by an international donor agency, namely UNICEF-Bangladesh. The dominant narratives about the acid campaign, presented currently by ASF, UNICEF, the international and national media, by ignoring the complex genealogy of the acid campaign erased the agency of the Bangladeshi women activists whose groundwork made the campaign possible and eventually successful. In addition, the diversification and expansion of the campaign has compromised its initial radical agenda, which strived to transform survivors into activists and leaders of the campaign. The new services, albeit having greater reach, espouse a WID-centered strategy with inadequate attention to systemic change. This is a story of the complexity of local women’s organizing and its negotiations with transnational politics and subsequent successes and failures.

 

From a Distance of 120 Years”: Theorizing Diasporic Chinese Female Subjectivities in Geling Yan’s The Lost Daughter of Happiness
Sally McWilliams

Chinese diasporic literature authored by women represents a recurring struggle to integrate the complexities of national and transnational pasts with contemporary manifestations of racial, gender, and sexual politics. In The Lost Daughter of Happiness (2001) Geling Yan’s examination of female subjectivity interrogates how the history of women in the Chinese Diaspora crosses and challenges national racial, and sexual boundaries. My analysis of Yan’s most recent novel examines the deployment of rescue narratives, the politics of interracial love affairs, and the power of the silent female gaze in light of the contemporary narrator’s own self-conscious cynicism about her Chinese heritage and positionality in the U.S. A close reading of these narrative techniques as situated within a metafictional frame compels readers to focus contradictions and paradoxes that gird Chinese women narratives. Rather than allowing us to come away content with a simplistic equivalency that the rescue of Chinese women’s stories from the silence of U.S. history is a site of happy reconciliation with a national project of assimilation, Yan’s postmodern text problematizes both the reconstruction of a feminist literary history and its relation to nations. In shaping the discourse of female subjectivity into a site of overlapping and competing experiences, perspectives, and meanings. The Lost Daughter of Happiness rewrites a masculinized nationalism of nostalgia into a transnational diasporic feminist space of agency and potentiality.

 

Annu Palakunnathu Mathew’s Alien: Copy With a Difference
Nandini Bhattacharya

While an international celebratory spotlight is trained on Bollywood as a crossover phenomenon, artists like Annu Palakunnathu Matthew have been engaged in critiquing Booywood’s self-presentation via posters and publicity images. In her show catalog entitled Alien, Matthew captures the global dissonances of Bollywood in ‘Bollywood Satirized,’ and by juxtaposing it with he other series entitled, ‘An Indian from India,’ draws deft parallels between the global travels of film technology and the ambivalent globalization of the spectatorship itself.

 

Tending to the Roots: Anna Julia Cooper’s Sociopolitical Thought and Activism
Kathy Glass

This paper argues that Anna Julia Cooper’s nineteenth-century writings troubled the boundaries of race, gender and nation, creating new cognitive mappings of community. Her essays undermined traditional categories, transcending the limitations of liberalism and the narrowness of nationalism designed to deny African Americans rights and resources. Marginalized within black male collectives due to her gender and trivialized within feminist groups on account of her race, Cooper found it necessary to develop eclectic resistance strategies and unique forms of political alliance.
In effect I argue that Cooper engages in a syncretic form of social action, which I term “syncre-nationalism,” that requires us to re-work traditional methods of analyzing race, gender, and collectivity. Cooper’s essays, collected in A Voice from the South, embody nationalist and “syncre-nationalist” politics in that they espouse black nationalist principles, while problematizing racial and sexual essentialism. Cooper’s creative politics are important precisely because they do not fit into the pre-established categories of nationalism bequeathed to us from the past.

 

African Feminist Scholars in Women's Studies: Negotiating Spaces of Dislocation and Transformation in the Study of Women
Wairimu Ngaruiya Njambi and Josephine Boeku-Betts

This paper examines some of the dilemmas and problems experienced by some African women scholars in U.S. academic institutions and how such experiences in turn inform of the nature of their relationships with colleagues and students, and the pedagogical and resistance strategies that they practice in such situations that we encounter. We are aware that concerns and perspectives that we bring to our work are marked by our historical, educational, political, and cultural location as Africans and feminists, as well as by our experience of living in the United States with our newly acquired identities as “Black women,” and as “third world immigrants. Additionally, our usage of the phrase African women” is not intended to imply that there is such a thing as a coherent or unitary group that can be identified as such. Just as the term “women of color” or “third world women,” African women is employed here to emphasize a political constituency rather than a biological bond. For both of us, learning how to see ourselves as Africans has been largely shaped by our similar political struggle and desires to name and resist oppressive conditions the we find in U.S. academia.

 

Becoming Post Colonial: African women changing the meaning of citizenship
Patricia McFadden

No abstract in computer, could not find record of this MS in Microsoft Access or the hard copy in the “Current Issue” drawer in the file cabinet next to Trinidad’s desk.