Queering National Mythologies: Anandamath, The Mahabharata, and the Gendering of Resistance

Wednesday 6 February 2013, 5.30PM

Speaker(s): Shamira Meghani (Leeds)


This paper discusses 'Anandamath' (1881-2), Bankimchandra Chatterjee's foundational Indian nationalist text, and argues that it must be read as articulating productive, transformative, anti-colonial gender transgression.  It has most often been been interpreted canonically, as fundamentally within the trope of Mother India, a trope which has been viewed as conflating Indian womanhood with the symbol of the nation as well as having divided the nation along communal lines: the discussion will be situated in broader debates about the nation for non-specialists.  The paper explores the pivotal and gender transgressive character of Shanti to argue that the textual antecedent of Sikhandin, a minor but equally pivotal character in the 'Mahabharata', is intertextually woven into Bankimchandra's narrative, invoking gender transgression and sexual ambiguity as central to political resistance and transformation.

Location: Treehouse, Berrick Saul Building

Email: claire.westall@york.ac.uk