By Irene Gedalof
Against Purity confronts the problems that white Western feminism has in balancing problems with gender with different kinds of distinction, equivalent to race, ethnicity and state. This pioneering research locations contemporary feminist idea from India in serious dialog with the paintings of key Western thinkers corresponding to Butler, haraway and Irigaray and argues that, via such postcolonial encounters, modern feminist idea can start to paintings 'against purity' as a way to boost extra complicated types of strength, identification and the self, eventually to redefine 'women' because the topic of feminism.
Theoretically grounded but written in an available kind, this can be a distinctive contribution to ongoing feminist debates approximately identification, strength and distinction.
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Extra info for Against Purity: Rethinking Identity with Indian and Western Feminisms (Gender, Racism, Ethnicity)
By strategic positioning, I mean how women’s activities, as filtered through those discourses, are located within particular networks of power relations and produce material effects. At the same time I recognise that none of these positionings is WOMEN AND COMMUNITY IDENTITIES 27 ever fully stable, complete or closed, their effects are not always as intended, nor are they homogeneous. Respecting the complexity and specificity of work produced in another context is always difficult. The material I engage with in these two chapters is, quite rightly, more concerned to speak to the complexities of Indian society than to Western feminists, and recognising and respecting that space is part of what postcolonial theory is about.
The linking of nation to ‘mother’, ‘nature’ and ‘home’ reinforces its claims to authenticity (Chhachhi 1991:163–4). What Chhachhi adds to this framework is a feminist concern with women’s strategic location with respect to these symbolic constructs. Within these paradigms, ‘Woman’ marks the boundaries and contours of the national community and provides access to its truth about itself. However, those borders, and that so-called ‘truth’ then work to constrain and regulate the activities of the community’s women (1991: 165–7).
In the first section of this chapter I suggest that different theoretical starting points can affect the ways in which Indian feminists have answered these questions. I begin by discussing two contrasting Indian feminist analyses of women’s active presence in the contemporary Hindu communalist movement. This debate suggests broader theoretical differences within Indian feminisms over how to characterise women’s agency and positioning within predominant power relations. The second section explores a number of Indian feminist discussions of when and how women’s agency is valorised within discourses and practices that centre on community identities.