WOMAN AND INDIAN MODERNITY
Readings of Colonial and Postcolonial Novels.
by Nalini Natarajan
(University of Puerto Rico at Rio Piedras)
Drawing from the large body of criticism on non-European modernities in recent years, this study targets what seems to be a discernible ambivalence in these studies. The author seeks to investigate twentieth-century Indias complex negotiations with modernity, with its usefulness as well as its threat, at one of the most vulnerable points of definition, the position of women. Focusing on the disciplines or genres within which modernity is introduced, the study uses the modern literary genre, as well as intellectual disciplines. Using these two domains of study, an interdisciplinary framework is developed by looking at how narratives may be read in the light of other disciplines constructing the modern subject-ideologies of manners and refinement, prohibition, ethnography, ethnospsychology, film, property law and urban history.
The book argues that the possibilities in modernity are subject to a constant negotiation and become domesticated through the century, especially in the area of gendering. Gendering is revealed as a historically contingent process operating differently at different historical moments. The analysis enables us to see the ideological gender constructions and contradictions behind modern versions of caste, modern daughterhood, modern citizenhood, and modern proprietorship.
Nalini Natarajan was educated in New Dehli and Bombay, India, taught at Jawaharlal Nehru University and Miranda House, Delhi and is now Professor of English at the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras. She has edited A Handbook of Twentieth-Century Literatures of India (1996).