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The “Politically Correct Memsahib”: Performing Englishness in Select Anglo-Indian Advice Manuals

S. Vimala, M.G.R. College, Hosur, India

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Abstract

Examining select Anglo-Indian advice manuals written after the Indian Mutiny in 1857and during the ‘high imperialism’ period of the British Raj, the essay proposes that this cultural artefact served the purpose of constructing and naturalizing the English Memsahibs’ gendered racial identity. By reiterating the performance of gender, class and race imperatives to construct a unique identity prerequisite for the Anglo-Indian community as well as the Indian colony, these texts aimed at the crystallization of this identity that will strengthen the idea of the British Raj. Such reiteration- apart from revealing the imperial anxiety of the subversion of the Memsahib identity- were useful to caution the English women new to the colonial environment.  Reading these Anglo-Indian advice manuals produced for the consumption of the Anglo-Indian community, what the essay further proposes is that the performance of gendered-racial identity of the English women in India constituted not only the governance of their bodies and the Anglo-Indian spaces, but also their management of travel and material consumption including food.  Judith Butler’s Gender Trouble and Bodies That Matter provide useful insights to study the performance of the “politically correct Memsahib” identity and its attendant relation to the imagining of the homogenous British Raj.   

Tipu Sultan and the Politics of Representation in Three 19th Century English novels

Ayusman Chakraborty, Jadavpur University, India

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 Abstract

Tipu Sultan was the ruler of the native state of Mysore. His fierce opposition to British rule in India earned him unrivalled notoriety in England. Colonial writings usually portray him as a cruel tyrant who tortured Indians and Englishmen alike. This article studies the representation of Tipu Sultan in three nineteenth century English novels – The Surgeon’s Daughter by Sir Walter Scott, Tippoo Sultaun: A Tale of the Mysore Wars by Captain Meadows Taylor, and The Tiger of Mysore by G. A. Henty . In these works, Tipu is painted in an extremely unfavourable light. Arguing that the politics of imperialism influences such representations, this article tries to show how the depiction of Tipu as a monstrous villain served to justify British rule in India. These novels seem to suggest that the British deserve credit for rescuing Indians from such egregious villain. The article also focuses on politicization of Tipu’s dead body. Colonial art and literature constantly return to the scene where Tipu’s body is discovered by his enemies. This article argues that colonial imagination converts Tipu’s corpse to a ‘grisly trophy’ which becomes a sign of British triumph over Oriental despotism.

The Bilingual Writer Stripped off his Bilingual Identity in Indian Literary Scene: Manoj Das and the Politics of Packaging

Amarjeet Nayak, Thapar University, India

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Abstract

The position of a bilingual writer in India, who writes in English and a regional language, is a problematic one as s/he has a foot each in two literary traditions–Indian Writing in English and Regional Language Literatures. Instead of being seen as a bilingual writer, the market forces see to it that the writer is seen as a monolingual writer in the respective literary tradition. This paper tries to show how packaging of the bilingual writer in these two traditions contributes significantly towards the split identity of a bilingual writer as a result of which the bilingual writer is stripped off his bilingual identity. I shall do this through an analysis of the packaging of Manoj Das, a prolific bilingual writer in Indian Writing in English and Oriya literary traditions.

Aesthetics of Indian Feminist Theatre

Anita Singh, Banaras Hindu University, Uttar Pradesh, India

Abstract

This study addresses a number of Indian feminist plays (both by men and women) that were written and performed in the last century and early years in this century. The paper focus specifically on Indian theatre because of its long established theatre tradition that goes back to 1st century B.C. Ironically in such a country there were hardly any women dramatist to speak of before 19th century. At the core, the belief of a Feminist theatre is in the efficacy of theatre as a tool for conscientization, for critiquing social disparities and for self exploration and expression. Feminist theatre is a source of empowerment; it enables women to speak out. It is at the intersection of art, activism and social relevance and sees theatre as an instrument of real change in women’s lives.  It is an exploration of women’s own unique idiom, their own form, their language and ways of communication. It is a challenge to the established notions of theatre.

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