April 12, 2001 – Mary E. John: “Is Nature: Culture as Culture: Politics? Transnational Feminisms and South Asian Predicaments”

Thursday, April 12 | Oakes Mural Room | 12:00 PM


This talk moves forward from the arguments of “discrepant dislocations”, first explored in John’s (1996) and draws on her current participation in feminist debates in India. The nature/culture problematic has been paradigmatic for western feminism. It has enabled major advances in feminist theory, of which the sex/gender distinction would be just one. This problematic constitutes the staple of feminist theory in much of the world, including India. Theorizing the subject of “women,” the women’s movement and feminism over the last two centuries in India, however, brings a somewhat different problematic to the fore, best captured by the tensions and conflicts between culture and politics. Taking its cue from problems and impasses besetting the women’s movement in India today (such as the question of a uniform civil code and political representation for women) this paper argues for the urgency of comparative and transnational feminisms to tackle the problems of the present.

Mary E. John completed her Ph.D. in the History of Consciousness Program in 1991. She is currently Senior Fellow at the Centre for Women’s Development Studies, New Delhi, India. Her publications include A Question of Silence? The Sexual Economies of Modern India (co-edited with Janaki Nair, Kali for Women. New Delhi, 1998 and Zed Press, 2000). She is currently completing a project on the history of women’s studies in India.