About the Book
How does one examine the lives women script in the intimacy of diaries, letters and other personal narratives and how can one relate these to the social worlds in which they are produced?
Centring its investigation on contemporary Kerala, this study examines a range of diverse and seemingly disconnected discourses around the Kerala model, tourism, AIDS and sexual violence and argues that present-day Kerala maps two opposing worlds. It imagines itself as a perfected utopia and, simultaneously, also as a dystopia-a society that is on the edge of collapse. The book attempts to explore these divergent self-descriptions of Kerala.
Concurrently it also analyses a range of personal narratives to trace how 'dominant women' configure their selves. It deploys the term 'dominant women' to signal women of relative privilege, whose experience speaks simultaneously of devaluation and dominance. Their lives also signal the asymmetries, the instabilities and the inequalities within the category 'woman'. These women are, in many ways, the subject of the development narratives of the state. The book reveals how discourses apparently removed from women's everyday, shape their personal experiences and, in turn, how women's self-formations overwrite, extend and rework these 'larger' discourses.
Sreekumar's writing is compelling and textured. Her research, based on a wide range of women's narratives, makes this a riveting journey into the makings of modern-day Kerala.
About the Author
Sharmila Sreekumar is Associate Professor in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT Bombay.
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