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Monthly Archives: July 2017

Gender & Agency: Our Picks from the Latest in Young Adult Lit

A 2011 study at Dartmouth College that looked at 5600 children’s books published in the US in the 20th century found that only 31% of these books had girls as the central characters. Thankfully the representation of women and girls in children’s books is getting better and we have seen some strong female characters in the recent past. A few years ago, the Association of American Publishers ranked Children’s/Young Adult books as the fastest growing publishing category. Avoiding the debate on the labels “teen” and “YA” and keeping to a broad 12+ age category, here are some of my picks of Indian YA books published in 2016 and 2017 with central female characters or well rounded female characters.

z1edit - Asmara’s Summer by Andaleeb Wajid (Penguin India, 2016): Bangalore based author, Andaleeb Wajid sets her novel within a real space in the city. She thought of the story when in an auto passing by Tannery Road. Her seventeen-year-old protagonist Asmara, has a secret that she wants no one in her college to know: that her grandparents live by Tannery Road, an area known for its lower middle-class Muslim population. She is forced to spend her summer vacation with them and this forms the timeline for the novel in which the author deftly handles differences in socio-economic class through the eyes of her young protagonist.

 

z2edit- Tanya Tania by Antara Ganguli (Bloomsbury India, 2016): Though written on a Goa beach during the monsoon, the author takes us back to Mumbai and Karachi of the 1990s against the backdrop of political violence. The novel is a story of two young women, children of college best friends who are encouraged to get to know each other. The girls - Tanya Talati in Karachi and Tania Ghosh in Mumbai eventually divulge details about their personal lives and share their ambitions with each other. The novel also brings out the political realities of the two countries through the two relatively privileged protagonists. Written completely in the form of letters spanning a period of 6 years, Ganguli weaves together a heart-wrenching narrative.  

z3edit - Girl Rising: Changing the World One Girl at a Time by Tanya Lee Stone (Wendy Lamb Books, 2017): The only non-fiction book on this list, Girl Rising centred on the eponymous Girl Rising, a global campaign for girl education that created a film chronicling the lives of nine girls in the developing world. Author Lee Stone, uses additional research focusing on these nine girls and others examining barriers to education including factors like early child marriage, sex trafficking, poverty and gender discrimination. Though it is questionable if education by itself without a large set of accompanying conditions can really create a transformative change in the lives of these girls, the book through its infographics, photos alongside a compelling narrative sets the ground to begin important conversations.

z4editThe Sorcerer of Mandala by D Kalyanaraman (Yali Books, 2016): Unlike the other titles in this list, this is a comical, light read with the publishers describing the book as a quirky fantasy novel suitable for ages 14 and up. The story is set in Orum, a town suddenly isolated from the rest of civilization. To save Orum, Vikram, his reluctant fiancée Ponni and his friends a thief and an aspiring playwright must steal a jewel that hangs around the neck of a demonic goddess guarded by her devotee, a terrifying Sorcerer. With each chapter opening with an illustration by Raghava KK, the novel becomes a particularly engaging read.

z5edit - Unbroken by Nandhika Nambi (Duckbill, 2017): The YA fiction space has witnessed a growing number of teen authors and Unbroken goes into that list with Nambi writing it in the six month gap between finishing school and joining medical college. A couple of years later, Nambi who had already self-published two novels, sent out Unbroken to publishers with Duckbill eventually taking on the novel. The story engages with some important issues around disability with the protagonist Akriti, confined to a wheelchair following an accident. The story follows her interactions with her brother, parents, and friends and her constantly feeling as though confined to a prison surrounded by them all with nowhere to escape.

So far 2017 has also seen a large number of international books in the YA category depicting the South Asian experience. With us living increasingly global lives, you might find these titles in literature of the Indian diaspora relatable and I have picked one of them for this list.

z7edit- Rani Patel in Full Effect by Sonia Patel (Cinco Puntos Press, 2016): Rani Patel in Full Effect is the first young adult novel by Sonia Patel, a US-based psychiatrist who works with children and adults. Rani is a daughter of Gujarati immigrants living on a Hawaiian island often feeling isolated and unhappy. Her only comfort is when performing hip hop. Through Hawaiian, Hawaiian pidgin, Gujarati as well as hip-hop slang, Rani tells you her tale filled with themes of insecurities, love, and incest. This is set against a narrative that includes her parents failing marriage and an older man who is interested in Rani and eventually leads her to an underground hip hop crew.

I grew up on a generous share of Roald Dahls and Judy Blumes and after rapidly making my way through the children’s titles in my school library and local bookstore, I graduated to general fiction without really engaging with the fiction category written solely for teenagers. I am now making up for lost time and consistently add YA fiction to my reading list. Here are two upcoming YA novels that I am particularly looking forward to.

z10edit

 

 - You Bring the Distant Near by Mitali Perkins (FSG Books for Young Readers, release date 12th Sept 2017): Perkins has written numerous novels in the YA category with South Asian characters like Bamboo People and Secret Keeper. Her upcoming YA novel tells the story of one Indian-American family through teen voices spanning across three generations. The themes tackled through the lives of these five women include cultural identity, a biracial love affair, and environmental activism could appeal to a large audience.

z10edit- Pashmina by Nidhi Chanani (First Second, release date 3rd Oct 2017): Chanani is an Indian American artist and illustrator and her upcoming graphic novel will explore what it means to engage with the two identities and culture through her young protagonist Pri. Through the discovery of a magic pashmina owned by her mother, Pri finds out about her mother’s past, her life in India, who her father is and why her mother left him behind. Considering that only few graphic novels engage with these particular themes, this could add some diversity to your reading list.

Many adults confess to reading in the YA genre, so don’t let being older than early twenties stop you from picking up one of these titles the next time you are at a bookstore!

e-Essays from Zubaan | July 21, Domestic Space & Kinship

E-essays header fixed

Our e-Essays project is now LIVE! Previously-released essays are available here, and each month a new essay is available for free with any other purchase.

To be added to the mailing list, subscribe here!

We opened our offering of the e-Essays with a focus on Indian women’s movements. Our second lot of essays looked at sexual violence. The third set of our e-Essays has been curated to the theme of domestic space and kinship. Covering a breadth of disciplines and spatiotemporal positions, this set comments on familial (matriarchal/patriarchal) and architectural structures as building blocks of women's lived experiences. A historical exploration of matrilineal Khasi societies and a piece on the changing role of women's education in 19th century Maharashtra connect here with an essay on women-only homes as seen in Indo-English women's writings, the three together examining the nature of power as it is employed within the family home.


1) 'Men, Women and the Embattled Family' by Uma Chakravarti from Rewriting History: The Life and Times of Pandita Ramabai, 1998.

8_Men, Women and the Embattled Family from Rewriting History_coverUma Chakravarti’s essay delves into the discourses of women's changing roles in nineteenth century Maharashtra, particularly in relation to education. As the household became enmeshed in a web of debates that had seeped in from the public to the domestic sphere, the education of one's wife was a project taken on by many male Hindu middle-class reformers. This essay explores not only the nature of the education that was imparted – which was fundamentally different from that given to men – but also its perceived functions and the consequences faced by women who were given access to such 'schooling'. 46 pp.

Read more.

₹70.00
Dr. Uma Chakravarti is a feminist historian who taught at Miranda House, Delhi University. She writes on Buddhism, early Indian history, the 19th century and on contemporary issues.

2) 'Women-Only Homes' by Geetanjali Singh Chanda from Indian Women in the House of Fiction, 2008.
9_Women-Only Homes from House of Fiction_coverColonization dramatically altered the understanding of Indianness in light of nationalism and womanhood in light of modernism. Geetanjali Singh Chanda argues effectively in Indian Women in the House of Fiction that the home is the nexus of the construction of Indianness and womanhood because of this Indo-English encounter.Chanda traces the evolution of homes and domestic ideologies from the joint-family, indigenous patriarchal haveli dwelling to the Western import, the bungalow, to the urban apartment by analyzing texts of Indo-English women’s writings. 46 pp.
Read more.
₹70.00
Dr. Geetanjali Singh Chanda is a senior lecturer in the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Programme at Yale University, USA. She has taught courses on globalization, autobiographies, family, cultural identity, popular culture, international feminisms and postcolonial India since 2001. Her research interests include religion, masculinities and popular culture.

3) 'Khasi Matrilineal Society: The Paradox Within' by Esther Syiem from The Peripheral Centre: Voices from India's Northeast, 2010.

10_Khasi Matrilineal Society from The Peripheral CentreEsther Syiem's essay traces the paradoxical nature of women’s status in Khasi matrilineal society. At once empowered and oppressed, Khasi women learn to negotiate these contradictions in their day-to-day engagements with society.

Despite being both visible and vocal, like their sisters across the country Khasi women too face a skewed sex ratio, a lack of reproductive choices, widespread domestic violence and a host of other issues. 9pp.
Read more.

₹50.00
Esther Syiem teaches English Literature at North-Eastern Hill University, Shillong, and specializes in American Literature, Modern Fiction and Folk Literature. Her publications are in both English and Khasi, and they include poetry collections like Oral Scriptings (2005) and Of Follies and Frailties of Wit and Wisdom (2010).

Free in July, with the purchase of any other essay:
4)  'Towards a Feminist Politics: The Indian Women's Movement in Historical Perspective' by Samita Sen from The Violence of Development: The Politics of Identity, Gender
& Social Inequalities in India
, 2002.

1_Towards a Feminist Politics from Violence of Development_ coverSamita Sen’s essay traces the history of the Indian women’s movement from the 1920s to the present day. The chronological as well as thematic logic of the essay follows three primary heads: a historical background, the Uniform Civil Code (UCC) controversy, and the political implications of the reservation for women in legislatures.

For Sen, a new feminist politics has to address struggles of class, caste, community, religion et al, without displacing gender as the central concern, making this essay one of crucial importance for understanding the origins of the issues facing feminist politics today.  53pp.

Read more.

 

 

 

Samita Sen is Director, School of Women’s Studies, and Dean, Faculty of Interdisciplinary Studies, Law and Management, Jadavpur University. She writes on education, the women’s movement, marriage, domestic violence, women in governance and women’s land rights.


A note on pricing, frequency and format:

Ten new essays are released each month, and subscribers receive each new set in their inbox three times a month. The essays range from just a few pages to 100-page chapters, and we have therefore created three pricing tiers: 50, 70 and 95 rupees. Responses to our test survey in March indicated that a majority of readers would be willing to pay up to Rs. 100, so we've kept even the longest essay under that amount. The vast majority of our readers also included PDFs in their preference of format, and we have therefore standardised all our essays in PDF files.

If you're interested to see what's coming next, make sure you've joined our emailing list, and keep your eye out for the next mailer/blog post.

Happy Reading!

#THROWBACKTHURSDAY| A Life in Trans Activism

tbt1

Welcome to #ThrowbackThursday, a new series where we will revisit backlist titles one Thursday every month. This July, we’re looking at A Life in Trans Activism by A. Revathi.


About the book

A Life in Trans ActivismIn A. Revathi's first memoir, The Truth About Me (2011), readers learned of her childhood unease with her male body, her escape from her birth family to a house of hijras, and her eventual transition to being the woman she always she knew was.

This book charts Revathi’s remarkable journey from relative obscurity to becoming India’s leading spokesperson for transgender rights and an inspiration to thousands. It describes her life as an activist, theatre person, actor and writer. Revathi also offers the reader insight into one of the least talked about experiences on the gender trajectory—those of trans men.

An unforgettable book, A Life in Trans Activism will leave the reader questioning the ‘safe’ and ‘comfortable’ binaries of male/female that so many of us take for granted.


 About the author 

A. Revathi is an activist working for the rights of sexual minorities, and an author. Her autobiography The Truth About Me (2011) is one of the few autobiographies written by a member of the hijra community. Further, her prose and poetry has been translated into Kannada, English and Hindi. She was also the director of Sangama, a minority rights NGO. Revathi is also an actor—she made her debut in the Tamil film Thenavattu in 2008.


 Quotes from readers 

Her latest volume, A Life in Trans Activism (Zubaan, 2016) is an unflinching account of her journey towards accepting herself and, in the process, convincing society to accept her as well. Whether she is describing her apprenticeship as a hijra through the abusive guru process; her family’s violent rejection of her identity; or her complex relationship with elite, urban sexual and gender minority rights activists, Revathi is frank and compassionate, even to those who have wronged her. Her honest descriptions make even the most mundane parts of her life, such as her attempts to procure the proper government ID reflecting her new gender, fascinating and heartbreaking. [...]Stories like Revathi’s are vital because they make space for other women to feel comfortable in their own skin. - Open Magazine

 

A Life in Trans Activism is a story that makes you sit up straight and think hard and strong over the years, how we have treated transgenders among ourselves and how much our leaders have done for them. [...] So, today I ask you to pick up A Life in Trans Activism and read. Read it for a better world, to open our mind and heart towards fellow human beings whom we have ignored and despised for too long. Their anatomy may seem complicated to you, but once you read about it, you will be one of the many who would have taken a step towards making a country that doesn’t just think in black and white, but also in color." - Shabd Studio

e-Essays from Zubaan: 11 July, Sexual Violence

E-essays header fixed

Our e-Essays project is now LIVE! Previously-released essays are available here, and each month a new essay is available for free with any other purchase.

To be added to the mailing list, subscribe here!

We opened our offering of the e-Essays with a focus on Indian women’s movements. Our second lot of e-Essays are picked from two brilliant volumes on sexual violence. The three pieces differently focus on the loci of this violence: both men and women in militarised Kashmir, a single survivor narrative in Nagaland, and Dalit women in the jogini system, at the intersection of various structures of patriarchal and Brahmanical violence. Published between 2011 and 2016, the authors of these pieces use survivor narratives and analysis to examine the culture of impunity around sexual violence and its varying contributing factors.


1) 'Sexual Violence' by Aloysius Irudayam S J, Jayshree P Mangubhai & Joel G Lee from Dalit Women Speak Out: Caste, Class and Gender Violence in India, 2011.

5_Sexual Violence from Dalit Women Speak Out_coverExposing the vulnerability of Dalit women to both gender-based exploitation and caste-based violence, this essay investigates the threats that follow the women into their homes, their workplace, and the streets. Covering the many different structures that enable and even perpetuate such violence, the essay focuses in particular on the jogini system that legitimises prostitution even as it creates a circle of exploitation and social discrimination. 35 pp.
Read more.

₹70.00

Aloysius Irudayam S. J. is currently the Program Director for Advocacy Research and Human Rights Education at the Institute of Development Education, Action and Studies (IDEAS), located in Madurai, Tamil Nadu.

Jayshree Mangubhai is a Senior Human Rights Adviser with the Pacific Community (SPC), a regional organisation that provides technical and scientific advice to Pacific Island governments, based in Fiji.

Joel G Lee is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Williams College, Massachusetts, USA. He teaches and conducts research on caste and religion in South Asia.


2)'Breaking the Silence: Sexual Violence and Impunity in Jammu and Kashmir'  by Sahba Husain from Fault Lines of History, 2016. 

6_Breaking The Silence from Fault Lines_coverSahba Husain's essay illustrates how sexual violence in the context of Kashmir takes on another layer of meaning as a deliberate strategy employed by the armed forces. It targets both women and men and has a bearing on their daily lives that are subsumed under the shadow of militancy.

Much of the analysis in the essay also stems from personal accounts of survivors who have different allegiances and religious backgrounds, which has affected them differently and has allowed the author to delve deeper into their varied experiences. 45 pp.

Sahba Husain is an independent researcher and women’s rights activist. Her research in particular focuses on the societal and gendered consequences of militarization and armed conflict in Jammu & Kashmir. Currently, she is working on writing a non-fiction book about her activism in Kashmir.

3) 'Memories of Rape: The Banality of Violence and Impunity in Naga Society' by Dolly Kikon from Fault Lines of History, 2016.
6_Breaking The Silence from Fault Lines_coverWith the Indo-Naga peace negotiations going into their twentieth year and no concrete resolution in sight, the area stands witness to many dying hopes. In this chapter, Dolly Kikon  takes an insider's view to re-contextualise incidents of violence in the conflict-ridden terrain of Nagaland.
The area of focus is the Naga woman and her experiences of occupying a space that is fraught with conflict and sexual abuse. This figure is studied as an often-neglected survivor of cultural violence, whose voice is constantly suppressed by the masculine gaze, be it of the insurgent elements or the state armed forces. 33p.
Dolly Kikon is a professor of Development Studies and Anthropology at the University of Melbourne, Australia. Her research looks at development initiatives, gender, law, extractive resources and human rights in Northeast India. Before obtaining her PhD in Social and Cultural Anthropology from Stanford University, USA, she worked as a human rights lawyer in Northeast India.

Free in July, with the purchase of any other essay:
4)  'Towards a Feminist Politics: The Indian Women's Movement in Historical Perspective' by Samita Sen from The Violence of Development: The Politics of Identity, Gender
& Social Inequalities in India
, 2002.

1_Towards a Feminist Politics from Violence of Development_ coverSamita Sen’s essay traces the history of the Indian women’s movement from the 1920s to the present day. The chronological as well as thematic logic of the essay follows three primary heads: a historical background, the Uniform Civil Code (UCC) controversy, and the political implications of the reservation for women in legislatures.

For Sen, a new feminist politics has to address struggles of class, caste, community, religion et al, without displacing gender as the central concern, making this essay one of crucial importance for understanding the origins of the issues facing feminist politics today.  53pp. Read more.

 

 

 

Samita Sen is Director, School of Women’s Studies, and Dean, Faculty of Interdisciplinary Studies, Law and Management, Jadavpur University. She writes on education, the women’s movement, marriage, domestic violence, women in governance and women’s land rights.


A note on pricing, frequency and format:

Ten new essays are released each month, and subscribers receive each new set in their inbox three times a month. The essays range from just a few pages to 100-page chapters, and we have therefore created three pricing tiers: 50, 70 and 95 rupees. Responses to our test survey in March indicated that a majority of readers would be willing to pay up to Rs. 100, so we've kept even the longest essay under that amount. The vast majority of our readers also included PDFs in their preference of format, and we have therefore standardised all our essays in PDF files.

If you're interested to see what's coming next, make sure you've joined our emailing list, and keep your eye out for the next mailer/blog post.

Happy Reading!

e-Essays From Zubaan: 1 July, Indian Women's Movements

E-essays header fixedOur e-Essays project is now LIVE!

The e-Essays project is a new initiative from Zubaan, an effort to make feminist knowledge and academic research more easily accessible!

For nearly fifteen years, Zubaan has been publishing quality content in gender-related fields. With feedback from our readers, we realise that it's not always easy for our community — often scholars and researchers — to purchase anthologies, especially when they might need only one chapter or essay from a volume. Recognising this, we're making individual essays available in e-formats for a reasonable fee.

During the initial months of this pilot programme, on the 1st, 11th and 21st of every month a collection of three essays will be delivered to subscribers' inboxes, curated to cover disciplines and diversity within our academic anthologies. Each email adds to the bank of available essays, which can be purchased here, and each month, a new essay is available for free with any other purchase.

To be added to the mailing list, subscribe here!

We opened our offering of the e-Essays with a focus on Indian women’s movements. A mapping of history shows the resilience and adaptability of different forms of patriarchies, whether in the functioning of the colonial state, or in that of the more modern, independent Indian state. How have women’s movements and women’s activism confronted such entrenched patriarchies, what strategies have they brought to their activism to fight for change? How, further, has the movement – if indeed there is only one – addressed the complicated issues of caste contestations and identity-based challenges to the nation-state? Covering a period from the time of the Peshwai in the eighteenth century to the present day, this week’s essays highlight the challenges and strengths of the women’s movement in India.


1) Law, Colonial State and Gender by Uma Chakravarti, from Rewriting History: The Life and Times of Pandita Ramabai, 1998.

2_Law, Colonia State and Gender from Rewriting History_coverUma Chakravarti’s essay counters the claim that in the pre-colonial period, a ‘fixed’ Hindu law didn’t exist because of multiple caste laws, by arguing instead that even those separate caste laws were bound by a broader rational framework, enforced as such by the Peshwai. Chakravarti analyses the three legal issues of widow remarriage, conjugality and the age of consent to explore how the colonial laws affected women; the relationship between the caste panchayat and the larger legal culture of the second half of the nineteenth century; and whether the textual law was more or less repressive than customary law. 87 pp. Read More.

₹95.00

Uma Chakravarti is a feminist historian who taught at Miranda House, Delhi University. She writes on Buddhism, early Indian history, the 19th century and on contemporary issues.


2) 'Responses to Violence against Dalit Women' by Aloysius Irudayam S J, Jayshree P Mangubhai & Joel G Lee in Dalit Women Speak Out: Caste, Class and Gender Violence in India, 2011.

3_Responses to Violence Against Dalit Women from Dalit Women Speak Out_coverA qualitative as well as quantitative ethnography of 500 Dalit women who had been subjected to verbal, sexual and physical violence by men of the dominant castes, this essay starts as a narrative of individual Dalit women and moves towards an analysis of the reasons for the kinds of responses these women received when they tried to seek justice. The essence of the essay’s argument is that despite the existence of adequate legal measures, Dalit women still face insurmountable obstacles while getting those measures implemented, assuming of course that they know that what has been perpetrated against them is legally actionable. 55pp. Read More.

₹70.00

Aloysius Irudayam S. J. is currently the Program Director for Advocacy Research and Human Rights Education at the Institute of Development Education, Action and Studies (IDEAS), located in Madurai, Tamil Nadu.

Jayshree Mangubhai is a Senior Human Rights Adviser with the Pacific Community (SPC), a regional organisation that provides technical and scientific advice to Pacific Island governments, based in Fiji.

Joel G Lee is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Williams College, Massachusetts, USA. He teaches and conducts research on caste and religion in South Asia.


3. 'Restoring Order in Manipur: The Drama of Contemporary Women’s Protests' by Deepti Priya Mehrotra from The Peripheral Centre: Voices from India's Northeast, 2010.

4_Restoring Order in Manipur from Peripheral Centre_coverTwo prominent protests in Manipur by women in recent years, one an individual one and the other a collective one, have brought to national attention the brutalities committed by the armed forces on ordinary citizens under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act. This essay highlights what those protests mean for peace in Manipur, and how women have played a critical role in exposing the impunity with which human rights are violated under the exceptional circumstances created by the AFSPA. It also questions the unethical nature of militarization and the patriarchal nature of the Indian state. 14pp. Read more.

₹70.00

Deepti Priya Mehrotra is an independent scholar. Formerly a professor at Lady Shri Ram College for Women, Delhi University, she has a doctorate in Political Science from Delhi University.

 


Free in July, with the purchase of any other essay:

4. 'Towards a Feminist Politics: The Indian Women's Movement in Historical Perspective' by Samita Sen from The Violence of Development: The Politics of Identity, Gender
& Social Inequalities in India
, 2002.

1_Towards a Feminist Politics from Violence of Development_ coverSamita Sen’s essay traces the history of the Indian women’s movement from the 1920s to the present day. The chronological as well as thematic logic of the essay follows three primary heads: a historical background, the Uniform Civil Code (UCC) controversy, and the political implications of the reservation for women in legislatures.

For Sen, a new feminist politics has to address struggles of class, caste, community, religion et al, without displacing gender as the central concern, making this essay one of crucial importance for understanding the origins of the issues facing feminist politics today.  53pp. Read more.

₹70.00 

Samita Sen is Director, School of Women’s Studies, and Dean, Faculty of Interdisciplinary Studies, Law and Management, Jadavpur University. She writes on education, the women’s movement, marriage, domestic violence, women in governance and women’s land rights.


A note on pricing, frequency and format:

Ten new essays are released each month, and subscribers receive each new set in their inbox three times a month. The essays range from just a few pages to 100-page chapters, and we have therefore created three pricing tiers: 50, 70 and 95 rupees. Responses to our test survey in March indicated that a majority of readers would be willing to pay up to Rs. 100, so we've kept even the longest essay under that amount. The vast majority of our readers also included PDFs in their preference of format, and we have therefore standardised all our essays in PDF files.

If you're interested to see what's coming next, make sure you've joined our emailing list, and keep your eye out for the next mailer/blog post.

Happy Reading!

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