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Performance as Protest: Thumri and Tawaif’s Quest for Artistic Autonomy

Shramana Das Purkayasth, Vijaygarh Jyotish Ray College, Kolkata, India

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Abstract

Indian cultural history testifies to the intimate bond the tawaifs had for centuries with the performing arts. Be it the pre-Mughal folk culture of rural India or the highly sophisticated culture of classical music in the Mughal courts, the tawaifs had always remained at the focal point of it. However conservative social paradigm never allowed them to belong to the mainstream Indian society. Concepts of honour, chastity and occupational propriety, with which patriarchy regulates a woman’s individual choices, constrained the tawaif to inhabit a limited space, isolated and solitary, alluring, yet infamous. In the present paper, I propose to explore how thumri reflects the tawaif’s own consciousness of her contradictory status as an outcast as well as an artist, indispensable to India’s musical heritage. Through a detailed structural analysis of the genre, I would discuss how the textual world of thumri with its distinctive formal and performative peculiarities supplies the tawaif with a potentially subversive “action repertoire”, enabling the nautch-girl to voice her desperate demand for autonomy.

Mary Magdalene or Virgin Mary: Nationalism and the Concept of Woman in Bessie Head’s A Question of Power

Sayyed Rahim Moosavinia, Seyyede Maryam Hosseini & Shahid Chamran

University of Ahvaz, Iran

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Abstract

Foucault believes that people live in systems of power different from one era to another. He applies the term “power archives” to demonstrate that those inside an institute cannot be aware of the subtle ways of power imposed on them. Likewise, it would be oversimplification to think that with the apparent end of colonialism, the colonized subjects will be free from subjugating contexts. In the case of women, the situation is even worse since they are repressed by both the colonialist and the post-colonial nationalist. “Under the anxiety of the influence” of the former colonial father, the once-belittled colonial men turn to support their females in terms of their body and soul, and in this way define them inside a strictly demarcated roles of good wives, mothers, and households or vicious prostitutes. Bessie Head in her semi-autobiographical masterpiece subtly examines this idea and through her coloured protagonist, Elizabeth, attempts to re-deconstruct this notion.

Cities of Struggle and Resistance: The Image of the Palestinian City in Modern Arabic Poetry

Saddik M.Gohar, UAE University, UAE

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Abstract

This paper aesthetically articulates the representation of the Palestinian city in modern Arabic poetry in order to argue that while Arab -and non-Arab poets-incorporate  variety of attitudes toward the city ,  the presentation of the Palestinian city reveals a radical difference from the rest of Arabic and non-Arabic poetry  due to the peculiar history of struggle, resistance and victimization characterizing life in the Palestinian metropolis.  To the Palestinian poets, in particular, the city is part of a homeland they have lost or a refugee camp that has been resisting the invaders for decades.  Contrary to western cities  inhabited by alien residents such as Eliot’s Prufrock, or Arab cities populated by strangers, outsiders, whores, outcasts and political prisoners  as in the literary  cities of Badr Shaker Al-Sayyab  and Ahmed Abdul-Muti  Hejazi , the Palestinian city is inhabited by heroes and martyrs.  These heroes who appear in contemporary Palestinian poetry and take different shapes personify the struggle and resistance of a nation that has frequently refused to surrender at times of crisis.  Representing the spirit of the Palestinian people confronting  a world replete with  treachery and hypocrisy,  the Palestinian city and its nameless heroes , in contemporary Arabic  poetry, is an embodiment of  an eternal and unlimited Palestinian dream , the dream of return, rebirth and liberation.  In this context, the paper affirms that unlike Arab cities which are associated with decadence, corruption, exploitation and moral bankruptcy, the Palestinian city,  due to the Palestinian history of exile, resistance, victimization and pain, is viewed in Arabic/Palestinian poetry as a location of heroism,  struggle, defiance and martyrdom.

Tagore’s Paintings: a Creation of Genius[i]

Rajdeep Konar, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India

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Abstract

Standing even at his 150th birth anniversary, there still remains a tendency to see Rabindranath Tagore’s paintings as “aberrations” to his aesthetic creed. This article makes an attempt at understanding the “thought gesture” behind Tagore’s paintings and thus relocating them in his personal tradition of art. This argues that the significance of Tagore’s painting will be fully realized not in a minute technical analysis of his painting. There have been numerous attempts at asserting judgmental views on Tagore’s paintings concerning the absence of any “methodological approach” to his painting. Rather, the pertinent questions which should be posed are: Why did Tagore essentially began painting? And why did he paint what he did? These questions could lead us towards comprehending the potentially infinite “thought gesture” which lies beneath the finite, pragmatic act of painting. This could let us into a greater understanding of his act of painting as not an event of ‘exception’ but as a development of the very ideas and concepts which constituted his consciousness in whatever he did.

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.”

Rabindranath Tagore’s English Prose: “Some Qualities of Permanence”

Fakrul Alam, University of Dhaka, Bangladesh

Abstract

This paper explores the enduring qualities of Rabindranath Tagore’s English prose and puts forward the thesis that not only the Gitanjali poems but also many other of his English writings attained “some qualities of permanence” almost wholly because of his artistic skills. In addition to the strength of his ideas and the intensity of his feelings, the main reason why his prose works found an appreciative audience for a long time in the west can often be attributed to his adroit use of the English language in his letters, lectures, essays and speeches and his ability to adjust his style in accordance with the occasion, the audience, the genre and the subject matter. Without the impact the English prose writings have had, Tagore’s international reputation would not have survived thus far. Indeed, the enduring popularity of a work such as Nationalism tells us quite clearly that while as far as his argument is concerned there is a lot that is still relevant for the world in Tagore’s English writings, they should still appeal to us also because of his eloquence and writing skills.

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