Indian “Modernity” and “Tradition”: A Gender Analysis
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Jawaharlal Nehru University
Publication date: 2012-07-09
Polish Sociological Review 2012;178(2):281-294
This paper explores how the language of tradition and modernity has been the dominant idiom that has sought to capture the “essence” of both the Indian nation and the Indian woman. The salience of this discourse demands a critical enquiry to understand how this overarching and hegemonic idiom been accepted as an unproblematic given. India is often seen as a land of contrasts where tradition and modernity coexist—where Indian women are often showcased as emblematic of this coexistence. The paper seeks to look into the complex processes that lie beneath this easy description. It seeks to do so primarily: (i) by presenting a more historicized account of India’s modernity from the vantage point of gender, offering a feminist critique of the public private divide which forms the theoretical hub of the modernization framework, and; (ii) by drawing attention to the centrality of gender in the nation state’s political, developmental and cultural policies and its more recent shifts in a contemporary globalizing India.
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