Women’s Activism in India: Negotiating Secularism and Religion
Keywords:women’s movement, India, identity politics, secularism, religious nationalism, communal violence
In post-independence India secularism was almost taken for granted as a defining feature of the women’s movement with its rejection of the public expression of religious and caste identities. However, already by the 1980s, the assumption that gender could be used as a unifying factor was challenged, revealing that women from different social (class/caste) and religious backgrounds understand and sometime use their identities in ways that are not driven necessarily by some ideology (such as feminism or human rights), but by more immediate concerns and even opportunism. This realization opened up a debate about new strategies to tackle women’s activism, especially in light of aggressive political activism of some women associated with right-wing parties in India, which has clearly shattered the perception, held by some, of women as inherently peace-loving, whose gender identity would override their caste and religious belonging.
Garlough, Christine L. (2008), “On the Political Use of Folklore: Performance and Grassroots Feminist Activism in India”, The Journal of American Folklore 121 (480): 167–191.
Gold, G. A. (2008), “Gender”, in Sushil Mittal, Gene Thursby (eds.), Studying Hinduism: Key Concepts and Methods, London and New York: Routledge: pp. 178–193.
Govinda, Radhika (2006), “The Politics of the Marginalised: Dalits and Women’s Activism in India”, Gender and Development 14 (2): 181–190.
—. (2013), “‘Didi, are you Hindu?’ Politics of Secularism in Women’s Activism in India: Case-study of a Grassroots Women’s Organization in Rural Uttar Pradesh”, Modern Asian Studies 47 (2): 612–651.
Liddle, Joanna; R. Joshi, Rama (1986), Daughters of Independence: Gender, Caste and Class in India, London: Zed Books Ltd.
Lipner, J. (2009), “‘Icon and Mother’: An Inquiry into India’s National Song”, in Vinay Lal (ed.), Political Hinduism: The Religious Imagination in Public Spheres, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, pp. 96–121.
Mazumdar, Sucheta (1995), “Women on the March: Right-Wing Mobilization in Contemporary India”, Feminist Review 49: 1–28.
Mehrotra, Nilika (2002), “Percieving Feminism: Some Local Responses”, Sociological Bulletin 51 (1): 57–79.
Phadke, Shilpa (2003), “Thirty Years On: Women’s Studies Reflect on the Women’s Movement”, Economic and Political Weekly (October 25): 4575.
Rajagopal, Arvind (2001), Politics after Television: Religious Nationalism and the Reshaping of the Indian Public, Cambridge: Camebridge University Press.
Ray, Bharati (2002), Early Feminists in Colonial India, New Delhi: Oxford University Press.
Reddy, Deepa S. (2006), Religious Identity and Political Destiny: Hindutva in the Culture of Ethnicism, Lanham, New York, Toronto, Oxford: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Segal, Zohra (1997), “Theatre and Activism in the 1940s”, India International Centre Quaterly 24 (2/3): 31–39.
Varshney, Ashutosh (1993), “Contested Meanings: India’s National Identity, Hindu Nationalism and the Politics of Anxiety”, Daedalus 122: 227–261.
Vatuk, Sylvia J. (2009), “A Rallying Cry for Muslim Personal Law: The Shah Bano Case and Its Aftermath”, in B. D. Metcalf (ed.), Islam in South Asia in Practice, Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, pp. 352–367.
Vijayalakshmi, V. (2005), “Feminist Politics in India: Women and Civil Society Activism”, Institute for Social and Economic Change, Working Papers 161: 1–27.
Wadley, Susan S. (1977), “Women and the Hindu Tradition”, Signs 3 (1): 113–125.
How to Cite
Copyright (c) 2021 Filozofija i društvo / Philosophy and Society
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Articles published in Philosophy and Society are open-access in accordance with the CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 License.