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The Sexologist and the Poet: On Magnus Hirschfeld, Rabindranath Tagore, and the Critique of Sexual Binarity

J. Edgar Bauer, Researcher and Author                 

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Abstract

Between 1930 and 1932, German-Jewish sexologist Magnus Hirschfeld (1868-1935) undertook a world journey that he eventually reported in Die Weltreise eines Sexualforschers (1933), arguably the first non-Eurocentric, anti-colonialist critique of Asian cultures from a sexological perspective.  Saluted as “the modern Vatsyayana of the West,” Hirschfeld met during his stay in India personalities such as Jawaharlal Nehru, Jagadish Chandra Bose, and Radindranath Tagore, whom he visited at his family residence in Calcutta.  Against the backdrop of Hirschfeld’s “doctrine of sexual intermediaries” and his general postulate that truly creative artists have mostly “united in themselves both sexes in especially pronounced form,” the study analyzes and assesses his reference to Tagore’s femininity. While acknowledging the correspondences between the sexologist’s universalization of sexual intermediariness and the poet’s premise that “[t]he Creator must be conscious of both the male and female principles without which there can be no Creation,” the elaborations focus on their divergent conceptualizations of sexual difference, womanhood, and the erotic life.

In the World of Men: Tagore’s Arrival in the Spiritual Domain of Nationalism

Banibrata Goswami, Panchakot Mahavidyalaya, India

Abstract

Rabindranath Tagore was born in a family which, on one hand, inherited a legacy of rich Indian culture, and on the other, did not hesitate to welcome the modernism, freshly arrived from Europe through waves of Enlightenment. He was sent early to England to imbibe the gifts of modern science and rationalism that could lead him to a standard and secured career. But even though the discipline of work, love for liberalism and quest after scientific truth and technological perfection there impressed him much, in its over all effect the West’s efforts of de-humanization disappointed Tagore and disillusioned him as well. This led him finally to the realization and reconstruction of the motherland that is India. He came to meet the common man and his everyday sorrows and tears in rural Bengal, in Silaidaha, Patisar and Sazadpur where he was given the duty to look after the family estate. The raw and rough smell of the soil, the whirl of the waves in river Padma, the play of seasons on the strings of nature lent him a unique insight. He learnt to weave his words offering a perfect slide show of mutual reciprocation of man and nature, accompanied by a hitherto unheard melody of folk tune that glorifies the struggles of that life and thereby consolidating it gradually to a consciousness out of which a nation is born. The present essay intends to seek and understand the secrets of that story, which, though lacking miserably in sound and fury, strives towards a steady self emergence and emancipation paving the way for political freedom.

Jatiyo Itihaas vis-à-vis Manab Itihaas: Tagore the Historiographer

Sajalkumar Bhattacharya, Ramakrishna Mission Residential College, West Bengal, India

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Abstract

Bankimchandra Chattopadhyay wrote Krishnacaritra (1858) with an aim to counter the bias of the western scholars in the history of India recorded by them. But Rabindranath Tagore’s review article of Krishnacaritra is even more interesting, for it provides us with fascinating insights into Tagore’s views on history and historiography. These views are not only more modern and rational than those of Bankim, but they also appear to anticipate the takes of many sociologists, historians and novelists of today. This article attempts to analyse some of Tagore’s review articles as well as some of his essays to examine this alternative method of historiography proposed by him.

Unheeded Caveats: Examining Pax Americana in the Light of Tagore’s Nationalism

Abin Chakraborty, University of Calcutta, India

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Abstract

Rabindranath Tagore’s much discussed opposition to nationalism has often been seen as a source of consternating confusion which not only invoked the ire of many contemporary nationalists who interpreted his vision as one of helpless inaction as well as by certain contemporary critics who have considered Nationalism to be a disorienting product of “impassioned myth-making” which falls within the tradition of English liberalism[1]. This paper seeks to analyse Nationalism, as well as other related texts, in a different light, by comparing Tagore’s assessment of ‘Nation’ and Nationalism in the West’, with both the Communist Manifesto, as well as Lenin’s Imperialism, The Highest Stage of Capitalism in order to reveal how Tagore’s explorations constitute a sustained and scathing critique of capitalism, as manifested through the European bourgeois nation-state which is also relevant for this present age of U.S. imperialism and its consequences as many of the crises unfolding around us were presaged by Tagore’s unheeded caveats. The paper also suggests that whatever post-imperial vision we may imagine for our future, they must always be based on those values that Tagore championed throughout his life and which have often been dismissed as sentimental naivety.

Representation of the ‘National Self’— Novelistic Portrayal of a New Cultural Identity in Gora

Dipankar Roy,Visva-Bharati, India

 Abstract

Any colonial rule involves a systematic and ruthless attack on the culture and heritage of the colonized race. This often results in a total loss or at least maiming of the sense of ‘self’ for the colonized people. The masculinist self of the colonizer labels the self of the colonized as ‘effeminate’. In reaction to this, the nationalist consciousness of the colonized people often tries to replicate the macho virility of the colonial masters in an act of fashioning a ‘nationalist self.’ In the context of Indian colonial history we see development in similar lines. But, the codification of the dominant strand of the nationalist consciousness in overt masculinist terms often have strange reverberations. This paper is about such an act of fashionning selves and its after-effects. To study the issue in the Indian colonial contexts I have chosen Rabindranath Tagore’s novel Gora as a case-study. The conception of this novel’s central character is largely modelled on the issue of an ‘ideal’ national self.  The author, however, by observing the dialogic principle consistently in the text, problematises the dominant ideas connected with the figure of ‘nationalist self’. How he does it will be my main concern in this article. Whether it is possible to arrive at a general tendency of the nature of India’s colonial encounter with the British in relation to the issue of the development of the national character will be dealt with in the concluding section of this essay.

Open Texture of Nationalism: Tagore as Nationalist

Gangeya Mukherji, Mahamati Prannath Mahavidyalaya, Mau–Chitrakoot, India

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Abstract

“The attempt to evaluate the relationship of Tagore with the phenomenon of nationalism is hardly uncomplicated and defeats easy categorisation, naturally drawing attention as it must, to the porosity of the concept of nationalism. Although it is the received wisdom in many quarters that Tagore unlike Gandhi was opposed to nationalism, a close analysis may reveal why in his obituary of Tagore Gandhi chose to say: ‘In the death of Rabindranath Tagore, we have not only lost the greatest poet of the age, but an ardent nationalist who was also a humanitarian’.  Was there a nationalist hidden in Tagore which appealed to Gandhi’s nationalism? This paper will try to examine Tagore’s nationalism and his different understanding of the constituents of the nation – culture, language, history, idea of nationhood, memory, non violence – which led him to occasionally take stances that appeared to strike at the roots of the conventional notion of nation, exploring in parallel the extent to which the category of nationalism can be stretched without becoming something of its opposite. Waismann’s idea of open texture, more generally used in the philosophy of language, indicates that notwithstanding definitions there still remain possibilities of a definition being inadequate, although being different from vagueness insofar as the definition may be fairly accurate. This paper on the nation of Tagore will look at the open texture of nationalism.”

The Inseparable Dichotomy of Nationalism: the Readings of The Home and the World in China and the Reconsiderations

Xingyue Zhou, Peking University, China

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Abstract

While Tagore’s literary works are widely praised in China, his political thoughts have undergone a longtime denouncement. The reception history of The Home and the World fully proves this double-standard: acclaimed for its artistic achievements but despised for its nationalistic thoughts. This essay traces the Chinese scholars’ different reviews on this novel in various periods, at the same time it investigates into Tagore’s own meditation and choice in front of the conflict between mild humanism and radical patriotism. As this investigation touches some ideological dichotomies, it intends to uncover the absolutism of these criticisms, in order to refresh the critical views toward Tagore’s effortful request in the complicated reality of nationalism.

Magic Realism in Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude

B.J Geetha

Periyar University, India

Volume 2, Number 3, 2010Download PDF Version

DOI: 10.21659/rupkatha.v2n3.13

Abstract

In his One Hundred Years of Solitude Gabriel Garcia Marquez through the arsenal of magic realism, deals with war, suffering, and death in the mid-1960 of Colombia which had witnessed two hundred thousand politically motivated deaths. The purpose behind portraying the politics of the region is to comment on how the nature of Latin American politics is towards absurdity, denial, and never-ending repetitions of tragedy. His magical flair is to merge fantastic with reality by introducing to the reader his Colombia, where myths, portents, and legends exist side by side with technology and modernity. These myths, along with other elements and events in the novel recount a large portion of Colombian history.

Monsiváis Writes the (Bi)centennial

Amber Workman

University of California, USA

Volume 2, Number 3, 2010Download PDF Version

DOI: 10.21659/rupkatha.v2n3.12

Abstract

Despite his participation in many of the festivities and events related to the (Bi)centennial, Carlos Monsiváis was one of the most direct critics of the commemorations of the initiation of Mexican Independence and the Mexican Revolution.  However, in his literary chronicles to date, many of the author’s disagreements do not appear; instead, these writings show two general tendencies: 1) the tendency to postpone the (Bi)centennial to another year or transform the festivities into celebrations of something else; and 2) the tendency to mask the author’s own preferences, that is, to not take sides in his chronicles on the commemorations.  The article inserts Monsiváis’s chronicles into a “tradition” of “commemoratory chronicling” and suggests some possible reasons for their somewhat unusual treatment of Mexico’s (bi)centennial celebrations.

Electroacoustic Music in Mexico

Rodrigo Sigal

Centro Mexicano para la Música y las Artes Sonoras, Mexico

Volume 2, Number 3, 2010Download PDF version

DOI: 10.21659/rupkatha.v2n3.11

Abstract

Mexico has been an outsider to the electroacoustic music movement. Countries like Argentina, Cuba and Chile were pioneers in establishing electronic music centers in the continent. This texts aim to illustrate briefly the story behind the first initiatives in Mexico andthe actual situation and characteristics of the institutional electroacoustic music scene.