Beauty Queens and Hindu Militants: Indian Women’s Negotiation with Neoliberalism and Hindu Nationalism

  • Nazia Hussein The London School of Economics and Political Science
  • Saba Hussain Department of Sociology, University of Warwick

Abstract

Through a review of the 2012 documentary film The World before Her directed by Nisha Pahuja, this article provides a critical reflection on how neoliberal governmentality appropriates women’s bodies and subjectivities in two women’s boot camps in India: the Miss India contest and the Hindu militant Durga Vahini camp. Studies on appropriation of women’s bodies in the neoliberal ideology of the market and in varied religious ideologies have generated rich feminist insights into the structures of women’s oppression across the world. Feminist academic research has traditionally looked at market- and religion-based oppressions separately. In this critical reflection we articulate how women’s bodies get incorporated into the service of varied ideologies, namely neoliberal capitalism and religious fundamentalism, through processes of ritualisation, responsibilisation and subjectivation. Drawing on the shared elements of neoliberal (capitalism) and Hindutwa (Hindu fundamentalism) ideological projects, this article proposes a renewed analysis of the location of women in various ideological projects and the nature of women’s negotiation of these power structures or women’s agency within these structures.

References

Ahmed-Ghosh, H. (2004), ‘Writing the nation on the beauty queen's body: Implications for a ‘Hindu’ nation’, Meridians: feminism, race, transnationalism, 4(1), 205-227
Bartky, S. L. (1988), ‘Foucault, Femininity, and the Modernization of Patriarchal Power’, in I. Diamond and L. Quinby (eds.) Feminism and Foucault: Reflections on Resistance, Boston: Northeastern University Press, pp. 63–82
Bell, C. (1992), Ritual Theory; Ritual Practice, New York: Oxford University Press
Budgeon, S. (2001), ‘Emergent Femininities Identities’, European Journal of Feminist Studies, 8(1), 47-59
Burchell, G. (1996), ‘Liberal Government and the Techniques of the Self’, In Andrew Barry, Thomas Osborne, and Nikolas Rose, (eds.) Foucault and Political Reason: Liberalism, Neo-liberalism, and Rationalities of Government, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, pp. 19–36
Butler, J. (1997), The Psychic Life of Power: Theories in Subjection, Stanford: Stanford University Press
Chen, E. (2013), ‘Neoliberalism and popular women’s culture: Rethinking choice, freedom and agency’, European Journal of Cultural Studies, 16(4), 440–52
Cornwall, A., Gideon, J. and Wilson, K. (2008), ‘Introduction: Reclaiming Feminism: Gender and Neoliberalism’, IDS Bulletin, 39(6), 1-9
Dean, M. (1996), ‘Foucault, government and the enfolding of authority’, In A. Barry, T. Osborne, & N. Rose (eds.), Foucault and political reason: Liberalism, Neo-liberalism and Rationalities of Government, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, pp. 209–29
Dean, M. (1999), Governmentality: Power and Rule in Modern Society, London: Sage
Du Gay, P. (2000), In praise of bureaucracy: Weber, organisation, ethics, London: Sage
Duits, L. and Van Zoonen, L., (2006), ‘Headscarves and Porno-Chic Disciplining Girls' Bodies in the European Multicultural Society’, European Journal of Women's Studies, 13(2), 103-17
Foucault, M. (1979), Discipline and Punish, Harmondsworth: Penguin.
Gill, R., (2008), ‘Empowerment/sexism: Figuring female sexual agency in contemporary advertising’, Feminism & psychology, 18(1), 35-60.
Ghatak, S and A.S Abel (2013), ‘Power/Faith: Governmentality, Religion, and Post-Secular Societies’, International Journal of Politics, Culture, and Society, 26, 217–35
Gopalakrishnan, S. (2006), ‘Defining, Constructing and Policing a 'New India': Relationship between Neoliberalism and Hindutva’, Economic and Political Weekly, 41(26), 2803-807
Hindess, B. (2004), ‘Liberalism—What’s in a Name?’, in Wendy Larner & William Walters, (eds.) Global Governmentality: Governing International Spaces, London: Routledge, pp. 23–39
Kilbourne, J. (1999), Can't buy my love: how advertising changes the way we think and feel. New York, London: Touchstone
Kovacs, A., (2004), ‘You don't understand, we are at war! Refashioning Durga in the service of Hindu nationalism’, Contemporary South Asia, 13(4), 373-88.
Lemke, T. (2002), ‘Foucault, governmentality and critique’, Rethinking Marxism, 14(3), 49–62.
Mahmood, S. (2011), Politics of piety: The Islamic revival and the feminist subject, Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press.
Malkki, L. H. (1995), ‘Refugees and exile: From refugee studies to the national order of things’, Annual review of anthropology, 24, 495-523.
Milchman, A. and Rosenberg, A. (2011), ‘Michel Foucault: an ethical politics of care of self and others’ In Catherine H. Zuckert (ed.), Political Philosophy in the Twentieth Century: Authors and Arguments. Cambridge University Press, pp. 228-37.
Parameswaran, R. (2004), ‘Global queens, national celebrities: tales of feminine triumph in post‐liberalization India’, Critical Studies in Media Communication, 21(4), 346-70.
Rose, N. (1999), Powers of Freedom: Reframing Political Thought. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Rose, N. (2000), Government and Control. British Journal of Criminology, 40(2), 321–99
Scott, C. (1996), ‘Sushmita and Aishwarya: Symbols of national pride?’ Voices: A Journal on Communication for Development, 26, 16–18
Sharma, A. (2006), ‘Crossbreeding Institutions, Breeding Struggle: Women's Employment, Neoliberal Governmentality, and State (Re)Formation in India’ , Cultural Anthropology 21(1), 60-95.
The World Before Her Directed Nisha Pahuja (2012 Storyline Entertainment) DVD
Yuval-Davis, N., and Anthias, F. (1989), Woman, Nation, State, Basingstoke: Macmillan
Woman in traditional Indian dress
Published
2016-04-30
How to Cite
HUSSEIN, Nazia; HUSSAIN, Saba. Beauty Queens and Hindu Militants: Indian Women’s Negotiation with Neoliberalism and Hindu Nationalism. Exchanges: the Warwick Research Journal, [S.l.], v. 3, n. 2, p. 227-240, apr. 2016. ISSN 2053-9665. Available at: <http://exchanges.warwick.ac.uk/article/view/136>. Date accessed: 21 nov. 2017.
Section
Review Articles

Keywords

India, women’s agency, nationalism, neoliberalism, Hindutva, Miss India