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The CSCS Fellowships Programme began in 2002 to make its substantial library and faculty resources available to a range of researchers outside the institution.

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CSCS provides affiliation to Indian and international researchers for varying periods of time. In addition CSCS also invites academics to interact with faculty and students and to present their work at the Centre.

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List of conferences and workshops held at and conducted by CSCS in recent years.

Current State: Published
503: Culture, Reform and Women

Instructor: Mrinalini Sebastian

2 Credits

Course Requirements: Classroom presentations and a term paper.

This course seeks to investigate the discursive contexts within which the ‘women’s question’ gets linked to questions of ‘culture’/community/religion and ‘reform’. What are the conceptual presuppositions of the discourse of reform that get articulated as ‘cultural’ and ‘gender’ questions? The readings will be organised around the following three themes:

i. Nineteenth Century Social Reform Movements and the ‘Women’s Question’

ii. Indian Women’s Movement and Challenges to the articulation of a ‘subject’ of feminism

iii. Islam and Feminism


Session 1: Introduction

Mary Olympe de Gouges, “The Rights of Women”. In French Feminism: An Indian Anthology, ed. Danielle Haase-Dubose, Marcelle Marini, Rama Melkote, Susie Tharu.

J.S. Mill. “The Subjection of Women”, Chapter 3. In On Liberty and Other Writings. Ed. Stefan Collini. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989.

Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Women, Chapter IV

i. Nineteenth Century Social Reform Movements and the ‘Women’s Question’

Session 2:

Rajaram Mohan Roy, Bentinck

Ramabai, “ The High Caste Hindu Woman,”

Lata Mani, “Contentious Traditions”

Session 3:

Tarabai Shinde, “A Comparison between Women and Men”.

Phule, From Selected Writings

Partha Chatterjee, “Nationalist Resolution of the Woman’s Question”

Session 4:

Excerpts from Katherine Mayo, Selections from Mother India and Muthulakshmi’s response to Mayo.

Tanika Sarkar, “Strishiksha, or Education for Women,” and Rashsundari Debi, “Amar Jiban” in Words to Win: The Making of Amar Jiban: A Modern Autobiography

Session 5:

Meera Kosambi, “Gender Reform and Competing State Controls over Women: The Rakhmabai Case (1884- 1888)

Sudhir Chandra, Expositions by Dadaji and Rakhmabai, Appendix: C and D in Enslaved Daughters: Colonialism, Law and Women’s Rights

Janaki Nair, “’Social Reform’ and the Women’s Question”

ii. Indian Women’s Movement and Challenges to the articulation of a ‘subject’ of feminism

Session 6:

Gandhi, Nandita and Nandita Shah. “Organizations and Autonomy”

Gender and Politics in India. Ed. Nivedita Menon.

Susie Tharu and K. Lalitha, “Women Writing the Nation,” Women Writing in India

Session 7:

Dipta Bhog, “Gender and Curriculum,” EPW April 27, 2002

Malavika Karlekar, “Woman’s Nature and the Access to Education,” Socialization, Education and Women: Explorations.

Neera Desai, Vina Mazumdar and Kamalini Bhansali, “From Women’s Education to Women’s Studies”

Session 8:

Kalpana Ram, “Rationalism, Cultural Nationalism and the Reform of the Body Politics: Minority Intellectuals of the Tamil Catholic Community”, in Social Reform, Sexuality and the State, ed. Patricia Uberoi, Sage, 1996, pp. 291- 318.

Gabriela Dietrich, “Women and Religious Identities in India after Ayodhya” in Against All Odds: Essays on Women, Religion and Development from India and Pakistan, ed. Kamla Bhasin, Ritu Menon and Nighat Said, pp.35-50.

Additional Reading:

Flavia Agnes, “Constitutional Challenges, Communal Hues and Reforms within Personal Laws” (Unpublished article)

Session 9:

Bat-Ami Bar On, “Marginality and Epistemic Privilege”

Sandra Harding, “Rethinking Standpoint Epistemology: What is Strong Objectivity?”

Joan Scott, “Experience”

Session 10:

Dossier on Fire, Journal of Inter-Asia Cultural Studies

Mary E. John, “Alternate Modernities: Reservations and Women’s Movement in 20th Century India” EPW October 28, 2000

Sharmila Rege, “ A Dalit Feminist Standpoint”

Session 11:

Susi Tharu and Tejaswini Niranjana, “Problems for a Contemporary Theory of Gender”

Kumkum Sangari, “Politics of Diversity: Religious Communities and Multiple Patriarchies”

Tejaswini Niranjana, “ Feminism and Translation in India,: Contexts, Politics, Futures” Cultural Dynamics, Vol 10, Number 2 (July 1998): 133-146

iii. Islam and Feminism

Session 12:

Okin, “Is Multiculturalism Bad for Women?”

Azizah Y al-Habiri, “Is Western Patriarchal Feminism Good for Third World/Minority Women?”

Recommended Reading:

Martha Nussbaum, “The Role of Religion”

Session 13:

Seyla Benhabib, “Multiculturalism and Gendered Citizenship”, The Claims of Culture: Equality and Diversity in the Global Era

Valentine M. Moghadam, “Islamic Feminism and its Discontents: Toward a Resolution of the Debate,” Signs. Vol. 27, no.4 (Summer 2002):1135- 1171.

Additional Reading:

Amina Wadud, “Towards a Quranic Hermeneutics of Social Justice: Race, Class and Gender,” Journal of Law and Religion, Vol. 12, no.1(1995-1996): 37-50.

Session 14:

Saba Mahmood, “Feminist Theory, Embodiment, and the Docile Agent: Some Reflections on the Egyptian Islamic Revival”

Sisters in Islam, from Hudud in Malaysia

Additional Reading:

Akeel Bilgrami, “What is a Muslim?”


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