Shyaonti Talwar


"Another world is not only possible. She is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing."
- Arundhati Roy

Seminar on Critical Theory

Seminar Report

There were four resource persons, experts in the concerned areas they were dealing with. The first talk was given by Principal Dr. Anjali Kulkarni of Bordi College whose talk was entitled “To Be or to Become? The Essential Postcolonial Dilemma – A Feminist Perspective”. In her talk Dr. Kulkarni problematised the notion of identity and analysed it as an unstable transitioning construct in a post-colonial world. She extended the metaphor of space and its territorialisation, an essential colonial enterprise, to the mind as a space which has been colonised and houses the ideology of the coloniser. Looking at the ‘Self’ as only a threshold, a becoming between two multiplicities, she said how colonial people are constantly in a phase of transition, they are constantly changing, asserting and trying to find a foothold finally concluding that the predicament is quite the same for men and women both, as both are conforming to a certain societal construct.

The second talk was given by Assoc. Professor Dr. Sucharita Sarkar from Mumbai University who theorised Motherhood Studies, a contemporary area under Gender Studies. Her talk was entitled “Introducing Motherhood Studies through Feminist Theories of Culture, Body and Media”. She took the audience through an overview of the history of Motherhood Studies, some noted critics and theorists of the area and went on to problematise the notion of motherhood by critically evaluating the discourse around Motherhood and Maternity. She analysed how Motherhood as an institution is very different from motherhood as a lived experience and how maternity or the absence of it becomes central to the identity and existence of women which needs to be contested and resisted. She familiarised participants with the process of de-essentialisation of motherhood and emphasised on the need for the word ‘mother’ to become a verb rather than a gendered noun, implying that mothering or care giving should be undertaken by more and more people other than the biological mother so that the ambivalent feelings of joy and frustration that a mother experiences can be overcome and the mother can think beyond her child and her relative and functional existence only as a mother.

The third talk was delivered by Assoc. Professor Dr. Sachin Labade from the Department of English, University of Mumbai who spoke on Queer Theory and its applications. His talk entitled “Demystifying the Queer: from Apprehension to Appreciation” intended to do the exact same thing. He spoke about the need to naturalise the queer and mainstreaming it. He started with Michael Foucault’s idea of Knowledge is Power and through this thread traced the problematic and stigmatised discourse around the queer. He said that the interesting thing that Queer Theory does is to contest the notion of a stable identity, so it challenges and subverts an identity the moment it gets stabilised through discourse.

The fourth talk by Dr. Shyaonti Talwar was entitled “Introducing Cultural Studies: Culture, Hegemony and Theory” which focused on the discipline of Cultural Studies familiarised participants with the contemporary connotations of culture and cultural imperialism or hegemonic culture. It traced the origin of cultural studies as a discipline, its inspiration from Semiotics and Linguistics and its anti-disciplinary nature, some major scholars of Cultural Studies and shed light on some of the main areas of interest of Cultural Studies. Through multiple instances of cultural artefacts, it looked at culture as embedded in structures of power and the politics of value assignment and value judgment of a culture. Dr. Talwar also spoke about intersections of Cultural Studies with disciplines like Gender Studies, Nationalism, Postcolonialism and theory.


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