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Gender/Women: What to include?


Geeta Thatra


Gender/Women: What to include? Arecurring question while I was choosing the books for this special issue on gender was: does one pick up books that analyse social formations and institutions, cultural meanings and practices, economy and polity, using gender as an analytical category or those which use ‘woman’ as a synonym for gender, attempting to alter, add, re-define existing knowledge and make a critical statement about the prevailing structural inequality? The collection before you (and part of the August issue since all the reviews could not be accommodated in this volume) reflects the eclectic and fraught terrain of variegated perspectives, methodologies and sources. Another consideration was to include books that are in close conversation with feminist ideas and share the commitment of feminist praxis, which may (not) analyse gender relations in a conventional sense but expand the scope to think about critical events, governance, performance, arts, literature, high politics, etc. This seemed like an exciting possibility to open up the remit of gender studies but also posed a challenging question with respect to delimitation of the field. I don’t have an answer to this; hence I am flagging it as a question here. A few selected books of this kind, nonetheless, have been included. (reviewed by Vrinda Grover, Sudha Tiwari and Sunil Kumar). The reviews reflect the disciplinary and thematic diversity in the field of gender. Feminist practioners of particular disciplines are taking up the challenge of disrupting the disciplinary registers from within. These studies push the existing boundaries either by making new interpretations or by questioning the fundamental assumptions of the discipline itself (see the review by Anup Dhar). Feminist scholarship also attempts to be informed by epistemological shifts, and thus in unrelenting conversation so as to remain relevant, critical and vibrant (see the review by Krishna Menon). Such tenuous relationship from within and without the conventional disciplines, and the adoption of interdisciplinary approaches to specific problematic, is indispensible for feminist scholarship as pointed out by Gita Chadha also in her review. Several reviewers in this volume (like Anjali Arondekar, Nitya Vasudevan, Trina Nileena Banerjee, Mangai) have incisively reflected if the book under review has passed this litmus test, along with suggesting the conceptual and/or methodological limitations that the authors could consider, thereby keeping the conversation alive. Law, marriage, and family have been the conventional areas of feminist scholarship. The books on these subjects, reviewed by ...


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