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Title:From 'a room of one's own' to 'a room in the home': Discourses of negation in Indian feminist post-colonial fiction of Anita Desai, Mannu Bhandari and Ashapurna Devi
Author(s):Panjwani, Jyoti
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Palencia-Roth, Michael
Department / Program:Comparative and World Literature
Discipline:Comparative and World Literature
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Literature, Comparative
Literature, Asian
Abstract:The theoretical writings of many European and American feminists on Third World women and feminism foreground several problems regarding their understanding of Third World women. These problems are being increasingly brought to light by Third World women like, Chandra Talpade Mohanty, Gayatri Chakraborty Spivak, Pratima Parmar, Valerie Amos and others. I personally have been inspired by Chandra Talpade Mohanty in conceiving and researching my dissertation which analyzes in a comparative light the struggle of three Indian Post-colonial women writers, writing in three linguistic traditions of India, namely, Anita Desai (English), Mannu Bhandari (Hindi) and Ashapurna Devi (Bengali), against the western feminist approaches to Third World women.
In their discourses on Third World women, as Chandra Talpade Mohanty makes it clear in her article "Under Western Eyes" included in her book, Third World Women and the Politics of Feminism, 1991, several western feminists have tended to present Third World women monolithically as oppressed, under-developed, illiterate, ignorant and traditional. They juxtapose "the Third World woman" to "the western woman" who is depicted as liberated, educated, progressive, economically independent. This discourse in effect has colonized Third World women, i.e., the western feminists reveal a paternalistic and colonial attitude towards Third World women where the white feminists are the 'subjects' who are representing, sympathizing and developing their 'objects', the Third World women. In response to this tactic, the three Indian women writers, I analyze in my dissertation, explore the following question: Can Third World/Indian women find liberation by emulating the ideals of western feminism? They try to establish the indigenous patterns of liberation which can be followed in order to insure that the liberation is authentic.
In the light of this topic, I then ask, how these three Indian women writers try to find the ideals to emancipate Indian women and thereby decolonize white feminism. Their way to liberation is through negation. Accordingly, in my dissertation I analyze the attempts of three Indian Post-colonial woman writers, Anita Desai, Mannu Bhandari and Ashapurna Devi to: (a) negate the concept of 'a' Third World woman and feminism and create the concept of Indian women and feminism as a particular case. (b) negate the colonizing efforts of western feminism by revealing the failure of women's emancipation movement in India through the implementation of western feminists' ideals. Western feminism has largely concerned itself with the issue of gender as the sole cause of oppression and thereby stressed the need for equality between men and women to end the oppression of women. However, in the case of several Third World countries race, class, and imperialism are often more damaging for women than gender. (c) negate western feminism by actively searching for their own ideal of feminist emancipation. These Indian writers feel that the feminist premises and agendas have to be revised in the context of India.
To show the differences in the values and situation of women in the two cultures, eastern and western, I compare the works of the above mentioned Indian women writers to those of Virginia Woolf, who in my view has affected each of them in different ways.
Issue Date:1996
Rights Information:Copyright 1996 Panjwani, Jyoti
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9712394
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9712394

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