Thursday, July 11, 2013

Review of 'Reconstructing the Bengal Partition : The Psyche under a different violence

THE TELEGRAPH reviews Jayanti Basu's Reconstructing the Bengal Partition

"...In the book, Reconstructing the Bengal Partition, Jayanti Basu has searched the depths of the human psyche to fish out what little of this inexplicable 'something' can be explained through psychoanalysis. although her discussion focuses on one particular historic event, it is actually much more than that- it is the beginning of  quest to understand, or decipher, such layered words as pain, memory, fear, longing, rootlessness and nostalgia. Basu generously explains the methods she has employed to decode the interviews of people displaced by the partition of Bengal and of those who experienced it as a distant event. By analysing a collection of such interviews, she has explored the psychological impact of this unique and complex 'trauma' on the collective as well as the individual psyche..." 

To read the complete review visit the webpage

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Review of Urmila Pawar's 'The Weave of My Life: A Dalit Woman's Memoirs' , trans. Maya Pandit, 2008, pp. 348 and Ravikumar's 'Venomous Touch: Notes on Caste, Culture and Politics', trans. R. Azahagarasan, 2009, pp. 298

"The two volumes under review offer important insights into the lived realities of Dalits in contemporary India,   though they each approach the issue from different angles. While Pawar's autobiography is at times unnervingly optimistic in tone, Ravikumar is withering in his criticism and his assessment of the Dalit condition.

... Venomous Touch is filled with blood curdling, stomach turning examples of the humiliations and travesties to which Dalits are subjected, as in this description of a brutal attack on a group of dalits who had dared to contest (and win) a local panchayat (village council) election...Worse was the seemingly nonchalant response of the Indian justice system, and the people at large, to such a massacre, and Ravikumar rails against this with a mix of despair and righteous indignation.

Pawar's memoir recounts her journey from a small hamlet on the West Indian coast to Mumbai where she has become renowned as a Dalit and women's activist and as a Marathi writer. The story is replete with instances of everyday violence.

... Pawar's tenacious resourcefulness makes her account the perfect complement to Ravikumar's observations, for it leaves readers with the scope to imagine a better future. It is, of course, up to readers to take up the cause. Both books need to be widely read."

Review by: Manu Bhagavan
Hunter College and the Graduate Center
The City University of New York

Read the full review at:
The Indian Economic and Social History Review, 49, 4 (2012): 591-612

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Review: 'Women Contesting Culture: Changing Frames of Gender Politics in India'. Edited by Kavita Panjabi and Paromita Chakravarti. Stree, Kolkata, 2012, pp. 381, Rs. 500.00

"...the finest scholarship has come out of the convergence of the women’s movement and women’s/gender studies research..." 

"A few pioneering WS departments have also developed curricula and teaching-learning resources in different languages and for different levels of students. But there have been a few comprehensive publication projects. One such is that of the School of Women’s Studies (SWS), Jadavpur University, Kolkata. Women Contesting Culture: Changing Frames of Gender Politics in India is the second of a series of four Readers2 being published for SWS by the independent feminist publisher Stree, Kolkata. Samita Sen, Director of SWS and Series Editor, says the ‘enormous expansion in teaching’ WS in Bachelors’ and Masters’ courses, and even as a subject in the National Eligibility Test, ‘demanded a response from us’. As everyone engaged in the field knows, the finest scholarship has come out of the convergence of the women’s movement and women’s/gender studies research. As the editors of Women Contesting Culture Kavita Panjabi and Paromita Chakravarti remark, this is a matter of pride and celebration. The Reader reflects this celebration, even as it replays the fraught cultural politics of gender, marked by contestations, resistance and transformations over the last 25 years."

Review by: Sumi Krishna

The Book Review Literary Trust
VOLUME XXXVII NUMBER 2-3 February/March 2013

Read full review at