Monday, 14 March 2016

Jayshree Singh - Seminar Proposal & Abstracts of Seminar ACLA 2016.

Stream B: 10:30-1:30 Seminar Schedule  -- Northwest B110
NORTHWEST LABS – WHOLE LOWER LAB (Harvard –Events management)
Northwest Building, 52 Oxford Street, Cambridge, MA 02138


The social discourses dealing with gender and women studies in literal sense project gender and class relations, cultural tensions between men and women. The generic characteristics of such class-societies if analysed sociologically also implicate the power to reconstruct the text in its post-independence, post-modern societal phase. The historical background of such sections provide the readers to restructure indivisible duality of social conflicts, societal structuring, barriers and borders in a new dialogic process as regards  historical women in power position, who attempted to play their authority as guardians either to protect the heirs to the throne or to confront opposition for the safety of their provinces. Many women fighters in power position displayed their vision as well as they were instrumental in building women as workforce in freedom fighting or resurging collective consciousness among women.


Using Regalia for Women’s Reform: A Study of Kashibai Kanitkar’s The Palanquin Tassel
Kashibai Kanitkar’s Marathi novel Palkhicha Gonda  (1889 – 1928), translated into English as The Palanquin Tassel by Meera Kosambi, depicts a utopian kingdom with a woman regent. Manu, the protagonist of the novel, is given in marriage to a mentally ill prince. She overcomes her disappointment with her marriage to start a college for women who have been abandoned by their husbands.
The title of the novel is a sharp comment on Manu’s marriage. The symbol of a tasseled palanquin aptly conveys the contradictory states of gaining the comfort of royal life and a respectable socio-religious identity within a traditional Hindu cultural framework owing to marriage and Manu’s marriage being largely decorative with scarcely any hope of marital happiness. Her situation is analogous to women who gain a place in traditional Hindu households owing to marriage but are deprived of the roles of wives and mothers due to abandonment by their husbands. These women often could not continue to live in their marital homes and were mostly unwelcome in their natal homes. While traditional society of nineteenth century India expected them to accept their ‘fate’, even the social reformers’ focus was not on them. The social reformers were concentrating on advocating alternative ways of sustenance for child widows through remarriage, education and jobs. Manu’s empathy for these women coupled with the power she has as the regent stirs her into action, ensuring that women victims of dysfunctional marriages build independent lives through education and gainful employment.
This paper attempts to foreground Kanitkar’s path-breaking feminist perspective in proposing empowering alternatives outside marital roles for women who became victims within the traditionally encouraged institution of marriage.

The Audacity to 'Be'
Women in India who have been able to reach positions of power have been throughout history  (to this date) forced to internalise two mutually contradictory discourses - the discourse of the powerful and that of the powerless. As a ruler/controller she has had to think/act/speak like any male ruler/controller but as a woman she has rarely succeeded in shrugging off the burden of normative social expectations. A successful woman not dogged by a sense of guilt regarding not having fulfilled her social duties optimally is rare to come across. Vijaya Jahagirdar  in her book 'Karmayogini' title I will roughly translate as 'Dutybound') attempts a biographical sketch of Ahilyabai Holkar who was in charge of Indore province for more than twenty years. The writer discusses how this outstandingly intelligent and efficient woman was inescapably caught between the cross currents of expectation and desire to be an efficient and righteous ruler on one hand and the feeling of having neglected her social and religious duty of immolating  herself on the funeral pyre of her dead husband on the other. That she was guilty of having committed a grave sin (by not becoming Sattee ) was repeatedly reinforced by different agents in the society .The feeling that after the death of her husband she had lost the right to live forced her to lead the life of an ascetic devoted to the welfare of the province and its people. The driving force in her life was certainly not any positive sense originating from a satisfaction of having performed a task well but a negative feeling of being 'Dutybound' to perform in and for the world in which otherwise she had no right to exist. The paper aims at exploring the complex subjectivity of powerful women in India in general by looking closely at the 'subject formation' of Ahilyabai as depicted in the book by Vijaya  Jahagirdar.
Women of Regalia in Power: A Catalyst
In the modern democratic world the insignia of royalty is the power people have to change themselves and the world around them.  Mukhtar Mai from Pakistan is one of the few women who have become “women of Regalia” as she has “achieve(d) greatness” through her actions and become a catalyst of change for women in the Indian subcontinent.
Mukhtar Mai’s memoir (from Pakistan) In the Name of Honour follows the pattern of exploitation and resistance particularly in the lives of women who were subjected to physical violence.
In June 2002, Mukhtar Mai, a tribal woman faced the tyranny of the Panchayat which ordered her gang rape in full view of the village for an allegation against her brother. Anyone else would have committed suicide but not her. She had the courage to challenge the system and fight against the humiliation.  She now runs a school for girls from the compensation money she received.
What is important in her memoir In the Name of Honour is how Mukhtar Mai responds to the humiliation of physical violence.  She stands up against the might of the powerful who think that this form of violence will silence her forever.  Instead of being crushed, she emerges stronger and spreads the message of resistance to women all over and becomes a catalyst of change. She teaches other women not only to resist the power of the strong but also convert their experience into something positive.
The paradigm of dissent and change and the feminist issues of finding a voice, questioning the patriarchal power structure , resistance and change are reflected in her memoir. She truly is a woman of Regalia in the modern world. Her crown is in her heart not on her head.
My paper will examine how she challenged patriarchal oppression and changed not only herself but also the world around her.
<p>In the present times, gender issues are not just limited to being an area of special concern but are increasingly being considered as crucial elements in determination of policies, plans and strategies.&nbsp;The last two hundred years have witnessed a substantial expansion of women’s rights in all spheres- social, economic and political. However, despite denouncement of gender bias and promotion of gender equality over the past century, women are still victims of harassment, assault, and discrimination at workplace and at home on account of being the weaker sex- the ‘Other’. However, inspite of having a clear record of death, abuse and noticeable exploitation, women’s rights are not classified as human rights. Human rights are still considered more vital than women’s rights.
Conceptualising Gender: Realising Women’s Rights Globally
The term “women’s rights” covers many different areas, making it one of the most difficult areas of law to define. Women’s rights are most often associated with reproductive rights, sexual and domestic violence, and employment discrimination. But women’s rights also includes immigration and refugee matters, child custody, criminal justice, health care, housing, social security and public benefits, civil rights, human rights&nbsp;and international law. This paper intends to question the reasons which have led to the disparity between women’s rights and human rights and discusses various approaches leading to its change specially examining the abuses in which gender plays an important role.
Lakshmibai, The Warrior Queen of Jhansi: A Damsel Defying Destiny
An iconoclastic figure of the ‘First War of Independence’ for Indians, ‘Jezebel of India’ in the ‘Sepoy Mutiny of 1857’ to the British, Rani Laxmibai of Jhansi, is a myriad hued figure in Indian&nbsp;history. An epitome of bravery, she evolved from an exceptionally brilliant and gifted girl to an outstan- ding warrior and an extraordi -nary queen.Having an unconventional upbringing, Laxmibai was educated, knew Sanskrit and Persian too. Due to her unusual accomplishments, Gangadhar Rao, a childless widower and the ruler of Jhansi, married her. A queen at 14, a mother at 23 a widow at 25, and martyred at 29, hers is an incredible saga of tragedy and triumph. As queen she remained in  purdah. The King’s death and Dalhousie’s ‘Doctrine of Lapse’ were decisive for her. Laxmibai abandoned  purdah and  took over the reins of government, fought the British, and &nbsp;trained women warriors to help defend Jhansi, unthinkable in those times. She is richly portrayed in Indian literature. Her contribution ended the Mughal rule, and established the British Raj in India. Even her adversary Gen. Hugh Rose acknowledged her as ‘A man among the mutineers.
This paper: 1.presents the Indian societal situation then and now, assesses her impact on her times, and more importantly on India after independence. 2. It shows how she resisted opposition from men, from homeland and abroad, and triumphed; 3. It examines the literature by Indian women, to show how they perceive  differently.

The Rani of Kittur: A Critical Study of Power Politics of an Indian Kingdom
The Rani of Kittur, an eponymous historical play, by Basavaraj Naikar tries to recover its less known protagonist from the margin of Indian Freedom Struggle. This multilayered play plays a pivotal role in underlining the efforts of the Rani as a ruler as well as Rani as a woman who strives to take the centre stage. Throughout the play we see several references where the Rani shows her eagerness to delve deep into the power politics of the state. Being a woman of the nineteenth century British ruled India, her marginalization is so obvious that nobody even pays heed to her wish to come to the centre. Though superficially the playwright too emphasizes on her heroic mindset, he adroitly portrays her wish to take the charge of the state. The subterranean level of the play projects the Rani as an ambitious woman who is fond of power. Our present paper would be an attempt to highlight the subterranean multilayered power politics mentioned in this recently published play. The paper would be broadly divided into two parts. First, the observations on play from historical perspective, while the second, a woman’s wish to change her position from margin to centre.
Subverting Subaltern Consciousness: Search for Self-Identity in Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun and Mahasweta Devi’s Bayen
Race, caste, and gender have played a crucial role in the plots and storyline of literary works around the globe. The tussle to overcome personal discrimination, harassment and dilemma has surpassed centuries and varied genres of literature. Indian and African American Literatures are closely allied, owing to this unavoidable trait latent in it.
Lorraine Hansberry and Mahasweta Devi are two reputed women writers who explore the plight of their respective communities in their works. Their plays like A Raisin in the Sun  and  comprise of a deep concern for the forces that marginalize and deal with different forms of marginality. Lorraine Hansberry is a radical writer who deals with the issues of discrimination and inequality which community suffers from. On the other hand, Mahasweta Devi portrays the hardships and anguish of Dalit and Tribal communities of India. Though both the women writers belong to dissimilar social, cultural and geographical ethos, they share a similar antipathy for the communities in the peripheries and are desirous of bringing them into the mainstream of the society. In this paper I intend to contextualise subalternity by thematically exploring the afore mentioned plays, throw a search light on the concept of racial and caste discrimination prevalent in the society and capture the attempt of women characters to define their identity in a gender biased setup.

Woman in Regalia: Rebellious Princess of Kapurthala
Sikhs have played a very important role in the making of India and Indian civilization, particularly in the 19 and 20 century. The bravery of Sikh community is world renowned and unmatched. Sikh rulers, known as ‘Maharaja’ were very multi facet personalities as amongst other traits, they had tremendous curiosity to win over beautiful women and many times, for such actions their states had to suffer huge losses.

Amongst several Sikh ruled states, Kapurthala (Punjab, India) which was rule by Maharaja Jagatjit Singh from 16 October 1877 until his death 1949 has been enshrined in history. Amongst his six wives,  became the fifth queen. She was born and brought up in city Malaga, Spain. She did not have rich heritage in her childhood but her extraordinary beauty, intelligence and luck played so much that she became the princess of very historically renowned and vital state of India. After marriage, she was known as Princess Prem Kaur. She gave birth to son Raja Ajit Singh.

Prices Anita Delgado did not remain a simple queen through her life many other queens of other Indian states would do. Her individuality, wisdom and sense of self dignity made her extraordinary Woman in Regalia. Unlike other princesses and queens, she showed her psychological and physical mettle but she had to end up in divorce. But never ever she lost her self-confidence and moral strength. She had had remarkable life even after her separation from her king husband.

A Regent Maharani in Gita Mehta’s Raj: A New Modern Approach
The Present paper attempts to study the postmodern feministic perspective as depicted by Gita Mehta in her first fiction (1989). Gita Mehta, an Indian English Writer has effectively handled the theme of Regalia in power (Jaya Singh). It is a glimpse of Jaya Singh of Shirpur State in British colonial India. The British period of India is considered from 1857 till 1950. It accounts Jaya Singh’s struggle to protect the heir to monarch and safety for province that caught in cultural conflict between British and Indians. Within this point of reference, the researcher tries to examine Mehta’s depiction of Jaya Singh, the royal woman of regalia succeeds in ruling powe  of Shirpur State.
The paper further seeks to account the postcolonial theorists like Gaytri Spivok, Homi K Bhabha, Ania Loomba, and Paul Gilory who prospect on colonialism. It also throws light on Jaya as set forth by Mehta and her ideas that govern Jaya as a free and modern woman. It unfolds, further, Jaya as opposing force who changes herself, politically and tries to build for regalia power in British dominated world. It covers, besides, Jaya’s deliberation and strategies for it.
The paper comes to an end with the declaration of Jaya Singh as Regent Maharani of Shirpur State where reveals the novelist’s postmodern feministic outlook through protagonist and love for Indian monarch through .
Ahilya Bai Holkar: The Defacto Administrator and Ruler of Malwa Region in India.
Born in 1725, Ahilya Bai Holkar is known for giving a large part of Central India peace and good administration during the most turbulent and anarchical period. &nbsp;She had one of the most stable reigns of the 18<sup>th</sup> century so much so that her territories in Malwa were never attacked or disrupted by local battles. She was the actual head of the government and her great object was, to bring a radical change in the society by her objective approach towards people just to improve the condition of the country. She maintained but a small force independent of the territorial militia; but her troops were sufficient, aided by the equity of her administration, to preserve internal tranquillity. Ahilya Bai offended to prejudice, when she took upon herself the direct management of affairs and set every day for a considerable period, in open Durbar, transacting business. Her first principle of governance appears to have been moderate assessment, and respect for the villagers. The Rampuria affair brought to light her diplomacy and statesmanship. She gave up the idea of becoming Sati on the entreaties of Malhar Rao. She used the maxim of Least Power and Greatest Weight. She ruled in different fields like building ghats and temples and her high position and respect emanated from her exceptional qualities as just and efficient ruler who ruled as if she was a Trustee of the state.
Keywords: Ahilya Bai Holkar, peace, administration, management, principle, statesmanship, ruler.

The Aesthetics of Opposition: Reclaiming a Nonconformist Princess from Rajasthan
Meera Bai, an unconventional Rajput princess from the north Indian state of Rajasthan, is known as a great poetess, and intense devotee of Lord Krishna. Her poetry epitomizes the voice of a dissent, which derides the gender and class impositions of the power-writ social structure of 16th century India. Present paper explores the socio-cultural engagements of Meera Bai’s art that shape the aesthetic outlines in her literary expression. The paper undertakes a historical enquiry of the said Bhakti poet, who adroitly overturns the contemporary cultural constructions on themselves. Meera Bai was never fearful to challenge the stifling obligations of powerful patriarchal aristocracy. Her rebellion stands at both the levels of class and gender, which is reinforced in her poetic expression.
The paper examines the multiple strata of meaning inherent in Meera Bai’s poetic output scripted in Brij Bhasha (language in North-West India) and critically acclaimed as an integral part of Hindi Bhakti Sahitya.It enquires how Meera Bai asserts the nonconformist stand of a woman who does not surrender to the socio-cultural pressures of her time. How does her poetry suggest the oppositional aesthetics of art?  Does her poetic disposition expostulate the social and cultural categorizations what Chela Sandoval says, ‘resisting binary categories of identity in favor of a fluidity that moves between’? The paper intends to bring out the innate ‘artivism’ of Meera’s poetic resistance.
Bette Davis/ Elizabeth I: Reading Female Authority through Regalia and Reconstruction of History
This paper examines Bette Davis’ strikingly different portrayals of Elizabeth I in  The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939) and  The Virgin Queen  (1955) and, through employing ‘queer temporalities’, situates the performances at once in late sixteenth-century England and the post-war United States to dissect particular meanings ascribed to the meeting of regalia with femininity. A juxtaposition of select portraits of Elizabeth I with key scenes from and promotional posters of the films reveals how the presence (or the lack) of regalia regulates the desideratum for and dissidence against female authority. Conceived sixteen years apart, Davis’ characterisations of Elizabeth I reflect different modes of engagement with early modern history wherein  The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex is more effectively read alongside Olivier’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s (1944) as carrying a political freight peculiar to the context of World War II. Simultaneously, the differences in the re-presentations of Davis as Elizabeth I are extracted from even as they inform public perceptions of the iconic actress whereby the powerful and desirable Davis of 1939 is reduced to a vulnerable has been in 1955. Yoked by the appellation ‘queen’, one exercising sovereign authority and the other reigning over box-office, a cross-chronological reading of Elizabeth I and Davis affords a rare insight into how regalia constitute (female) authority.
Progressive Zeal of Royal Women in Indian Princely Ruling States -

The autobiographies, biographies, fiction and non-fiction writings on the aristocratic ancestry of noble women i.e. princesses belonging to Indian medieval history mostly show women in warfare, power and co-equality. But the blue-blooded women of Sultanate dynasty, Mughals and Hindu Indian Princely States later delineated their social-cultural, political and personal life struggling with gender edge, resilient towards conventional convictions and constructions of disparities. Women of such noble origin portrayed with feminine artistry and aristocracy, had to uphold their identity per se the wishes of the royalty. Many of the ruling family’s princesses  such as Sunity Devee, Maharani Brinda of Kapurthala, Gayatri Devi, Vijayaraje Scindia, Laxmi Bai of Rani, Rani Durgawati, Maharani Ahilya Bai, Maharani Jaya Singh of Sirpur etc. represented their progressive zeal all along through their turbulent life experiences. Meerabai of Mewar region in 16th century, Marathi Hindu Princess Sona Bai of Khuldaba in 17th century had seen lots disturbance and conflict in their life for being a catalyst to shun the regal splendor and exotic orient’s fortune. But there were many other who challenged feminine longings and adopted the gender roles in contrast to expectations of the man’s gaze and dominance. Their individual - self valorized the discriminating lense of the gender both in private and public space in context of their margin status in socio-cultural and political perspective. Their inner metamorphosis can be construed as an admission to self-assertion, self-motivation and self-empowerment.

Three Travel Options to Harvard Campus -
Shuttle Bus Service:
On Thursday (March 17th) 3 shuttle buses will circulate between the Cambridge Hyatt Regency and 52 Oxford Street from 3:00 PM to 9:30 PM. At 7:30 PM buses will stage on Oxford Street and begin to take participants back to the Cambridge Hyatt Regency. The last bus returns from 52 Oxford Street at 9:30 PM on Thursday.
On Friday and Saturday (March 18th and 19th) three shuttle buses will circulate between the Cambridge Hyatt Regency and 16 Quincy Street from 7:30 AM to 11:00 AM. Between 11:00 AM and 4:30 PM there will be two shuttle buses running in a continual loop. At 4:30 PM three buses will stage on Quincy Street to take the participants back to the Cambridge Hyatt Regency and return to 52 Oxford Street. At 7:00 PM three shuttle buses will stage on 52 Oxford Street to take the participants from the last event of the day back to the Cambridge Hyatt Regency. The last bus will return from 52 Oxford Street at 9:00 PM on Friday and Saturday.
On Sunday (March 20th) two shuttle buses will circulate between the Cambridge Hyatt Regency and Quincy Street from 7:30 AM to 10:30 AM. At 11:00 AM two buses will stage on Quincy Street for the return trip. The last return bus from Quincy Street is at 1:30 PM on Sunday.
Getting to Harvard Square by Subway (free from the airport, $2.50 to the airport):
Harvard Square is located on the Red Line Train of MBTA (the "T"). The trip is free from the Logan Airport: simply take the Silver Line bus from your terminal. At the end of the Silver Line (South Station) change to the Red Line inbound to Alewife Station and get off at the Harvard Square stop. The trip is approximately 40 minutes long from Logan Airport to Harvard Square. For schedules and maps of the "T" visit
Getting to Harvard Square by Taxi:
The taxi ride takes about 30 minutes and the fare is approximately $35-$45 with tip. The Department of Comparative Literature is located on 16 Quincy St. in Cambridge. - See more at:

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