Female Narratives of Protest: Literary and Cultural Representations from South Asia

deadline for submissions: 
February 1, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
Nabanita Sengupta

Contemporary regimes of protest in South Asia are informed and injuncted by its ever shifting geopolitical modalities. With the rise of globalisation, neoliberalism and multiculturalism, South Asian geopolitics comprise a quest for redefinition of biopower and subjectivity formations. As hegemonies of Western  dominance are toppled, South Asian geopolitics are evolving as a complex assemblage of biopolitics, citizenship ethics and human rights concerns. In this evolving engagement with global politics, South Asia is fast emerging as a contending power itself with competent human and capital resources. An important consequence of this is the appearance of newer axes of fault lines in terms of polity, economy, religion, culture, art, and gender. This has transpired into multiple geopolitical fissures, one glaring example of which is the CAA, a politically manipulated definition of citizenship and the politics of belonging in the Indian subcontinent. South Asian non-unitary subjectivities dwell within the vectors of diverse vocabularies of protest that are social and political in nature.

In the light of this, protest narratives originate in a space of power conflict as a means to combat the exploitation of the weak by the strong -  as a means of survival for the unempowered and unprivileged. Therefore a longing for empowerment, a desire to topple the authoritarian and a quest towards a just society is embedded within any protest narrative. The journey of struggle gets recorded in such narratives and irrespective of the outcome, the cultural productions of the movements become important. Archiving of protest narratives is a significant task because such narratives dare to break away from the dominant cultural representations and present the voices of the marginalised. It critically enquires the heteronormative world of binaries bringing into limelight the fault lines in the dominant normative exclusivist discourses. An interesting hermeneutics of protest literature is its very fluid nature and multiple connotations. An important aspect is the moral and ethical relationship between aesthetics and political message informing the content of protest narratives. Protest as an agentive politics on one hand is hinged upon the philosophical question of individuality and the dynamics of social structure, while on the other, gains impetus from political issues. These political issues might be embedded within one’s location and therefore protest narratives are also deeply shaped by one’s embeddedness in specific geospatialities


Historically, gender has been identified as one such location of the genesis of protest narratives. Female voices have always been marginalised in a patriarchal social system.

Patriarchal politics of sexuality and gender identities have been

conventionally partial to the heteronormative male voice. Females, both as a sexual

identity as well as a gender construct have been involved in a long and tedious

battle which still continues. Within the South Asian region too females have a

long history of struggle, the trajectory of which can be traced to the

emergence of the female Bhakti poets in the 16th century in the

Indian subcontinent. While any form of protest poetry invites penalty in some

form from the authority, when it comes to the female voices, discourses

invading the body and sexuality further problematises the issue. In the South

Asian context, these struggle narratives are various and multi-layered. They

have different rationales of origin, varied historiographies and

socio-political consequences, depending on their geopolitical locations but

they all together can be brought under the umbrella of intersectional feminist

discourses. Whether it be the landais from Afghanistan, miya women writing from

Assam, Dalit women’s narratives or narratives of queer women across the region,

the modes of protest are against the dominant, monolithic, universalist

ideology. The culminating point would be the ethical and humanitarian

cartographies of protest narratives leading to formation of closely knit female

communities of shared sufferings and solidarities resulting in a positive

biopolitical production premised on affective frameworks of care, cooperation and collective political actions. 

Within such a theoretical framework, the proposed anthology is interested in exploring the reconfiguration of female voices of protest in contemporary literature and popular culture and invites abstracts on but not limited to the following topics 


Exploring various genres of narratives by women, focus may also be

on mixed genre interpretations


Need for such narratives


Socio-political consequences


Feminism and protest/ resistance narratives


Feminist postcolonialist perspectives


Protest, gender and the era of post truth


Queer narratives of protest


Protest shaped by the politics of location


Protest and the politics of belonging


Protest and Biopolitics


Protest and Necropolitics


Protest Memory


Protest and Citizenship Rights


Protest and Life-writings


Protest and Illness narratives/narrative medicine


Protest and Disability Studies


Protest in the age of electronic media


Cultural Representations of Protest (In films)

Submit your abstract of not more than 350 words to protestnarratives@gmail.com by 1st February 2021.


The edited anthology will be published by areputed international publisher.




Dr. Nabanita Sengupta

Assistant Professor of English

Sarsuna College

(Affiliated to University of Calcutta)


West Bengal 



Samrita Sengupta Sinha

Assistant Professor

Department of English

Sophia College for Women (Autonomous)