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Title: Gender and Politics in Bengal: Women's Participation in the Naxalbari Movement in West Bengal (1967-1975)
Author: Sinha Roy, Mallarika.
ISNI:       0000 0001 1492 3621
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2007
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This dissertation analyses the Naxalbari Movement in West Bengal (1967-1975), a radical movement inspired by the Marxist-Leninist theory ofrevolution and mediated through the Maoist interpretations ofpeasant revolution, from the point ofview of gender. In spite ofbeing one of the well-studied political and social events in postcolonial West Bengal, the gender aspect remains neglected in the historiography of the movement. This is partly a historiographical practice to read the movement - its available academic and literary accounts - with new information and insight, gained principally through women's words. The popular and academic representations ofwomen participants as merely 'supportive', who apparently joined the movement only for 'attractions oflove' instead ofpolitical consciousness, are analysed through women's interpretations of their participation. The critical task is to seek the perfect poise between isolationist celebration ofindividual women and recovery ofdifferent silenced voices. 'Women' is not a composite, ahistorical 'other', waiting to be recovered, but inextricably mapped in the grid ofclass and race relations, colonialism and capitalism. The real and imagined histories of the Naxalbari movement, I argue, are fraught with varied gendered experiences of political motivation, revolutionary activism, and violence. Oral histories ofwomen participants from diverse backgrounds - tribal, workingclass, small-town-based middle-class, and metropolitan middle-class - suggest that gender relations were characterised by subtle nuances ofdomination, negotiation, acquiescence, and resistance. Examining women's experience, not as indisputable facts but as interpretations of selfhood, has emerged as a significant tenet of contemporary feminist theory. The recent critique ofthe representation of third world women as victims per excellence also encourages reading women participants' speech and silence as complex discourses of agency. Multiple meanings ofmagic moments ofwomen's struggle within the ideological and existential worlds ofNaxalbari can be derived from their words. This dissertation foregrounds how conflicts between an enchanted world of emancipation and entrenched patriarchal domination shaped their identities as women, as Naxalites, and as women Naxalites.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available