Contemporary Gender Movements in India: Space, Conformity, Dissent and New Temporalities
In December 2012, a young woman named Jyoti Singh was raped in New Delhi while returning home after watching a film with her friend. The incident quickly became a sensational news story in both national and international media, leading to an unprecedented amount of popular protests in New Delhi and other Indian cities. To be precise, the Jyoti Singh Rape Case proved to be a watershed moment in the history of the contemporary gendered mobilizations in India, which unleashed a series of questions for the Indian women’s movement. To begin with, such popular exhibition of dissent around the issues of gendered inequality in general, and sexual violence in particular, prompted activists and academics alike to ruminate on the emergence of a specifically twenty-first century feminism in India. As editors of this proposed anthology, we would like to foreground the ways in which these contemporary gendered formations deviate significantly from the gender based organizing that thrived in the pre-liberalization era, thus prompting us to think through the complicated mechanisms within and through which “new” feminisms are born.
At the heart of the mobilizations around Jyoti Singh’s rape were questions of both time and space. When can women be out in the public sphere? Is there truly ever a time when women can feel safe within public spaces? Coupled with such questions of gendered temporality are also questions of space. How are spaces gendered? If there are spaces which happen to be predominantly monosexual to begin with, how can gender-based social movements transform the very notion of space into an organizing signifier of prime importance?
In doing so, such movements have drawn attention to the fact that within South Asian modernities in general, and Indian modernity in particular, women’s access to public spaces have always been, and continues to be, a contentious issue. This volume is interested in how gendered demands for both temporal and spatial access are articulated within specific spaces. More specifically, how do categories such as “time” and “space” intersect with each other in complementary and contradictory ways? In order to find tangible forms, do such articulations look for alternative ‘spaces’ themselves? Can digital space, for example, be described as an “alternative space” within which a certain generation of young feminists have politically come of age in the post-liberalization era?
The editors of this proposed volume acknowledge the fact, that in the recent years, we have witnessed in India, the emergence of a new feminist subjectivity. As might be expected, such a phenomenon is also accompanied by the growth of a new female subject, within which the fulcrum of this new feminist subjectivity primarily wrests. Predominantly urban, predominantly over-educated, Hindu, upper-caste and upper middle class, this new female (and feminist) subjectivity, we contend, demands rigorous theorization. For instance, what role does intersectionality (between class, caste, religion, region and sexuality) play within the modalities of such new feminist subjectivities? What valence do “older” feminist debates (for instance, debates on domestic labor and political participation) have, if any, within these newer formations?
If the mobilizations following Jyoti Singh’s rape remain a watershed moment in the contemporary history of Indian gender movements, one also needs to contend with the fact that during such protests, very few efforts were made to link the instances of more individualized sexual violence to the history of state-sponsored sexual violence in India. Consequently, the ways in which rape becomes a ritualized and routinized exercise by the state in regions such as Kashmir, the Northeast and the “tribal heartlands” of India, remained outside of the rhetoric of the movement. Similarly, complicated discussions on the long history of the intersections of caste, gender and sexual violence remained outside the scope of the dominant language of the dissent.
The editors of this volume are interested in pushing this observation further. Are we too conclude that the imagination of the new gender-based social movements and the practices of the Indian state intersect in uncomfortable ways? What conclusions, then, can be drawn about the political unconscious of the new gender movements? If, as several scholars and writers have argued, the neoliberal imagination and popular sensibility, especially in city spaces like that of Delhi, have rendered certain people at precarious margins of political, social and civic lives, do the forms of political resistance imagined by the new feminisms reinforce, however unwittingly, the dominant neoliberal and statist imaginations? To what extent does the political imagination of such new feminisms collude with the hegemonic historical consciousness in India, which has by and large thrived on the deliberate and conscious efforts to create figurations of disposable other (s)? Can such collusions be documented and theorized by looking at the spatial dynamics engendered by the new Indian feminisms? What are the moments within which such collusions are broken to make space for “other” forms of gendered political imaginations which have hitherto remained unarticulated and/or marginalized?
Our edited volume will reflect on these questions, as we seek new modalities of theorizing the interrelationship between space, place, time, contemporary gendered formations, new feminist subjectivity and gendered mobilizations in India.
Topics include but are not limited to:
Contemporary Gender Movements and Resistances
Gender and Neoliberal Temporalities
New Indian Digital Feminisms
Media Spaces and Gender
Gender and New Religious Mobilizations
Class, Labor and Gender
Caste, Gender And Social Spaces
Dalit Feminisms (s)
Queer Spaces, Queer Times
Neoliberalism and Young Women Subjectivity
Gender At the Limits of the Indian Empire – Kashmir and the Northeast
Gender in Left Radical Social Movements
We invite articles of 5000-7500 words and reflection papers of 1200-1500 words. We are also interested in non-traditional forms of writing that have remained outside of mainstream academic discourses, yet can provide us with important documentation of the contemporary histories of gendered formations and movements. To that end, we invite interviews, personal stories and testimonies of activists, art makers and participants of the movements. We are also open to reviewing manifestoes and political writings that might have emerged from the everyday practices of organizations, movements and individuals.
The volume has already been approved by Routledge.
March 31st, 2018: 1-page CVs; abstracts of not more than 300 words for articles; of 150 words for reflection papers to Nandini Dhar (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Peerzada Raouf Ahmad (email@example.com)
Queries are welcome at