Edited Volume: Bollywood’s New Woman: Liberalization, Liberation and Contested Bodies

deadline for submissions: 
March 15, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
Megha Anwer (Purdue University) & Anupama Arora (University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth)
contact email: 

This collection will examine the cinematic representations of the New Indian Woman in recent popular Hindi or Bollywood films. On the one hand, this figure is a variant of, and has trans-historical connections to, the phenomenon of the “New Woman” in England and the United States. On the other hand, in the Indian context, the New Woman is a distinct articulation resulting from the specificities of the nation’s tryst with neoliberal reform (introduced in 1991), consolidation of the middle class, and the ascendency of aggressive Hindutva or Hindu Right politics. In this scenario, as Rupal Oza has argued, the New Woman becomes a bodily site upon which these dramatic socio-cultural and economic upheavals are measured and contested. Whether it is films from the 1990s (Hum Aapke Hain Koun, Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, Damini, Baazigar, Rangeela, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai) or ones from the last decade (Cocktail, Tanu Weds Manu, Queen, Revolver Rani, Piku, Highway, Dear Zindagi – to name a few), what is obvious in each case is Bollywood’s fascination, and endless experimentation, with the many avatars of the New Woman. This edited volume seeks to bring together scholarship on the “making of neoliberal India” with research on new trends in the Hindi film industry, locating the cinematic New Woman at the intersections between the two. Possible areas of investigation include but are not limited to:

  • Non-marital plot frameworks and non-domestic destinies for the New Woman
  • The New Woman’s education and her use of language
  • The entrepreneurial New Woman
  • New Woman, New Man
  • The New Woman’s global mobility
  • Urban landscapes and how the New Woman navigates them
  • What are the caste and class paradigms that frame the New Woman?
  • The New Woman’s forays into peri-urban and rural geographies
  • The New Woman’s consumption practices
  • Sexuality, pre-marital sex and the virginity/purity discourse
  • The New Woman’s female friendships and non-romantic male friends
  • [How] Does the New Woman love her parents?
  • The New Woman’s embroilment is crime, violence and terror
  • The New Woman’s neurosis
  • Half-girlfriends and full-wives
  • Is the New Woman Indian/desi enough?
  • Queering the New Woman
  • Is the New Woman always characterized by “hybridity?”
  • The female actors who play the New Woman, and those who don’t/can’t
  • Where have all the ‘old’ women gone?
  • The New Woman’s new vulnerabilities
  • Sexual violence against the New Woman
  • New Women directors of Bollywood


Please send 500-word abstracts and a 1-page CV to Megha Anwer (manwer@purdue.edu) and Anupama Arora (aarora@umassd.edu) by March 15, 2018. Full articles will be due June 10, 2018.