Gender and Nation in Post-Independence Indian Theatre

-  Trina Nileena Banerjee

The aims of this course will be to introduce students to a broad critical understanding of the socio-political frames of gender and nation, as possible conceptual tools for the study of cultural capital and modes of cultural production in a postcolonial state. The history of the development of post- Independence Indian theatre has been deeply imbricated in the politico-cultural project of nation-building. The course will try to open up the imaginary frames of popular nationalism to debate. These frames have also been crucially invested in hegemonic constructions of gender, where ‘woman’ as a monolithic category has always stood in a largely symbolic and metonymic relationship to ideas of nationhood and sovereignty, which this course will seek to thematically unpack. It will also problematize the dominant narrative by locating alternative histories of women’s political/cultural activism and agency, whether it be in radical leftist political movements or in avant-garde cultural movements, which have sought to dismantle the unquestioned hegemony of a linear narrative of national progress.


Essential Reading:

• Anderson, Benedict. 1983. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. London & New York: Verso.

• Chatterjee, Partha. 1989. “The Nationalist Resolution of the Women’s Question”, in Recasting Women: Essays in Indian Colonial History, ed. Kumkum Sangari and Sudesh Vaid. New Delhi: Kali for Women.

• McClintock, Anne. 1997. Dangerous Liaisons: Gender, Nation, and Postcolonial Perspectives. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

• Sarkar, Tanika. 2001. Hindu Wife, Hindu Nation: Community, Religion, and Cultural Nationalism. New Delhi: Permanent Black.

• Dutt, Bishnupriya and Sarkar Munsi, Urmimala. 2010. Engendering Performance: Indian Women Performers in Search of an Identity. New Delhi: Sage.

• Mee, Erin. B. 2008. Theatre of roots: Redirecting the Modern Indian Stage. Calcutta: Seagull.

• Dharwadker, Aparna. 2006. Theatres of Independence: Drama, Theory, and Urban Performance in India. New Delhi: Oxford University Press.

• Sunder Rajan, Rajeswari. 2003. The Scandal of the State: Women, Law, and Citizenship in Postcolonial India. Ranikhet: Permanent Black.