The politics of religion in and of the Indian subcontinent, which has also included forced religious conversions, has often undermined women's oppositional agency even as it has produced some remarkable works of literature such as Amrita Pritam’s Pinjar, Mahasweta Devi’s "Draupadi," Namita Gokhale and Malashri Lal’s edited collection In Search of Sita, Anita Nair’s Mistress and others, which attempt to subvert male elite epistemologies of religion in order to reimagine women’s bodies, identities and choices. This talk will interrogate the gendered politics of religion in India, the literary imaginations it has engendered, and the gaps and overlaps between the two. Ultimately, I examine what kinds of political, literary, spiritual and ethical coalitions are possible as women struggle to embody and articulate alternative futurities in this postcolonial, globalizing present.
Debotri Dhar is the 2015-16 Jean Campbell Visiting Scholar in the Center for the Education of Women, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, and a lecturer in Women’s Studies. She has previously taught at Rutgers University, and held a research affiliation at Boston University. Debotri’s research interests lie in feminist theory; gender in South Asia, with an emphasis on the politics, literatures and cultures of India; transnational feminisms; interdisciplinary research methods; and critical pedagogy. She has published several peer-reviewed articles, chapters and edited volumes. Debotri holds a Ph.D. in Women’s and Gender Studies from Rutgers University, USA, and a Masters in Women’s Studies, with distinction, from the University of Oxford, UK.