Two Talks by Anita Anantharam

The Department of Asian Studies and the Center for India and South Asia Research at the University of British Columbia present:

Two Talks by Anita Anantharam, University of Florida

Wednesday, March 27, 2013, 4-6PM:

Private and Communal Kitchens as Spaces for Rethinking Gender, Identity, & Citizenship

Asian Centre Auditorium • 1871 West Mall • Vancouver, BC V6T1Z2

Betty Friedan’s groundbreaking book The Feminine Mystique (1963), linked housework, childcare, and cleaning—the so-called “domestic drudgeries”—with patriarchal oppression, with the confinement of women to the home, and with the reinforcement of normative ideas about gender, femininity, and work. Sociologists have taken this aspect of women’s domestic servitude to study the burgeoning class of immigrant workers, mostly minorities, who have entered the care sector to fill in for their white, middle-class sisters who have left the kitchen to enter the public workforce (Ehrenreich and Hochschild 2002). Yet, despite the plethora of scholarship on and about women’s rights and gender roles, transnational feminists have remained curiously silent on the question of the domestic kitchen. This is partly due to the fact that opportunities for women outside of the home continue to be compromised by normative ideas about femininity and sexuality, workplace safety, and wage-gap issues. A call to put women back in the kitchen is an unsettling proposition. Nevertheless, this is what this present study explores: the emancipatory place of modern domesticity and kitchen politics.

Thursday, March 28, 2013, 2-3.30PM:

Cosmopolitanism and Vernacular literature: The Poems of Gagan Gill

Buchanan B318 • 1866 Main Mall • Vancouver, BC V6T1Z2

This lecture will feature the Hindi poetry and prose of Gagan Gill. Here, I highlight that, while Gill had alternate spaces for international and transnational collaboration she nevertheless chose to write in the Hindi language utilizing folklore and idiom to keep alive and build on local and inherited knowledge systems. This point thus illustrates the importance of indigenous rhetorical traditions rather than imposed theoretical models in understanding women’s organizing and feminist ethos in countries like India and Pakistan. Gagan Gill (like her contemporaries in Pakistan) has used poetry as a legitimate means of expression to suggest modes of feeling or social critiques that may otherwise have been considered illegitimate. Literary criticism, postcolonial theory, and even feminist analysis in South Asian literature has favored the Indo-English novel to the exclusion of vernacular South Asian literatures, creating a false impression of the Indo-English novel as somehow all-encompassing in its strategies of representation. What I offer in this talk is the possibility of understanding Hindi and Urdu vernacular literature as equally illustrative of cosmopolitanism, urbanity, and transgressive potential as the Indo-English novel.

Anita Anantharam (PhD, University of California, Berkeley)  is an assistant professor in Women’s Studies and Gender Research at the University of Florida. Her research interests are in the fields of nationalism and feminism in South Asia, women’s movements, and food and culture. She is the editor of _Mahadevi Varma: Political Essays on Women, Culture, and Nation_, a volume of translations, and has recently published a book titled _Bodies that Remember: Women’s Indigenous Knowledge and Cosmopolitanism in South Asia_ with Syracuse University Press (2012),  a comparative study of anti-state poetry from India and Pakistan during key moments of religious revitalization in the twentieth century.

Both talks are free and open to the general public.