Indian Feminisms: Concepts and Issues

By Prof. ANANDITA PAN   |   IISER Bhopal
Learners enrolled: 449
This course aims to engage with the multiple constructions of ‘women’ through history especially with the intention to enhance the concepts pertaining to gender and sexualities in the Indian context. The questions that this course deals with are: How is the category, ‘woman,’ conceptualized in India? What are the specific impacts/consequences of gender and sexuality in India? What issues/frameworks become important in the articulations by Indian feminisms? The areas that this course explores are broadly: construction of the Indian womanhood; intersecting structures of gender, caste, class, religion, and sexuality; body and violence; evolution of ‘gender’ and ‘sexuality’ through history; contemporary ruminations. This course intends to identify Indian feminism not as a monolithic homogeneous narrative, but as one rooted in different epistemic practices. As such this course is premised on the notion of particularity rather than universalism. In the process, this course will analyse how the notions of patriarchy as constituted of gender binarism, has come to be challenged through the intersectional lenses of class, religion, sexuality and so on.

INTENDED AUDIENCE: Students across various disciplines from Literature, Sociology, Women's studies and Gender studies doing either their Bachelor's or Master's, and even PhD, will benefit from this course.
Course Status : Upcoming
Course Type : Elective
Duration : 4 weeks
Start Date : 20 Feb 2023
End Date : 17 Mar 2023
Exam Date : 30 Apr 2023 IST
Enrollment Ends : 20 Feb 2023
Category :
  • Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit Points : 1
Level : Undergraduate/Postgraduate

Page Visits

Course layout

Week 1: Indian Feminism: A Historical Overview
Week 2: Nation and its Women
Week 3: Violence and its After-Effects
Week 4: Labour and Identity

Books and references

● Ambedkar, B. R. Annihilation of Caste: The Annotated Edition. Ed. Arundhati Roy. Navayana, 2015.
● —. Dr. Babsaheb Ambedkar: Writings and Speeches (BAWS). Ed. Vasant Moon. 1-15 vols. The Education Department, Government of Maharashtra, 1987-97. ● Anandhi, S. “Women's Question in the Dravidian Movement c. 1925-1948.” Social Scientist 19.5/6 (1991): 24-41.
● Banerjee, Nirmala, Samita Sen and Nandita Dhawan. Mapping the Field: Gender Relations in Contemporary India. 1-2 vols. Stree, 2012.
● Banerjee, Nirmala. “Working Women in Colonial Bengal: Modernization and Marginalization.” Recasting Women: Essays in Indian Colonial History. Ed. Kumkum Sangari and Sudesh Vaid. Kali for Women, 1990. 269-301.
● Banerjee, Sumanta. “Marginalization of Women’s Popular Culture in Nineteenth Century Bengal.” Recasting Women: Essays in Indian Colonial History. Ed. Kumkum Sangari and Sudesh Vaid. Kali for Women, 1989. 127-177.
● Bhaiya, Abha and Poonam Kathuria. Indian Feminisms: Individual and Collective Journeys. Zubaan, 2018.
● Bhasin, Kamla. Understanding Gender. (Women Unlimited, 2000).● Bhasin, Kamla and Nighat Said Khan. Some Questions on Feminism and its Relevance in South Asia. Kali for Women, 1986.
● Bhatt, Ela. We Are Poor But So Many: The Story of Self-employed Women in India. Oxford University Press, 2005.
● Boddu, Kiran Kumar and Siva Nagaiah Bolleddu. “Portrayal of Dalit Women Sufferings in the works of Gogu Shyamala and Joopaka Subhadra's Nalla Regati Sallu (Black Soil Furrow).” English Studies International Research Journal 4 (2016): 48-51.
● Bougle, C. “The Essence and Reality of the Caste System.” Social Stratification. Ed. Dipankar Gupta. Oxford University Press, 1991. 64-73.
● Butalia, Urvashi. The Other Side of Silence: Voices from the Partition of India. Penguin Books, 1998.
● Chakravarti, Uma. Gendering Caste: Through a Feminist Lens. Calcutta: Stree, 2003.
● —. “Whatever Happened to the Vedic Dasi? Orientalism, Nationalism and a Script for the Past.” Recasting Women: Essays in Indian Colonial History. Ed. Kumkum Sangari and Sudesh Vaid. Kali for Women, 1989. 27-87.
● Chatterjee, Partha. The Nation and Its Fragments: Colonial and Postcolonial Histories. Princeton University Press, 1993.
● Chaudhuri, Maitrayee, ed. Feminism In India. Kali for Women, Women Unlimited, 2004.
● Cho, Sumi, Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw and Leslie McCall. “Toward a Field of Intersectionality Studies: Theory, Applications, and Praxis.” Signs 38.4 (2013): 785-810.
● Choudhury, Sanghamitra. Women and Conflict in India. United Kingdom, Taylor & Francis, 2016.
● Dalwai, Sameena. “Caste and the Bar Dancer.” Economic and Political Weekly XLVIII.48 (2013): 131-132.
● Deshpande, G. P., ed. Selected Writings of Jotirao Phule. LeftWord, 2002.
● Devika, J. “Housewife, Sex Worker and Reformer: Controversies over Women Writing Their Lives in Kerala.” Economic and Political Weekly 39.2 (2006): 1675-1683.
● Diehl, Anita. Periyar E.V. Ramaswami: a study of the influence of a personality in contemporary South India. B.I. Publications, 1978.
● Doniger, Wendy and Brian Smith, The Laws of Manu. Penguin, 1991.
● Gangoli, Geetanjali. Indian Feminisms: Law, Patriarchies and Violence in India. Ashgate, 2007.
● Geetha, V. Gender. Stree, 2012.
● —. “Dalit Feminism: Where Life-Worlds and Histories Meet.” Women Contesting Culture: Changing Frames of Gender Politics in India. Ed. Kavita Panjabi and Paromita Chakravarti. Stree, 2012. 243-258.
● —. “Periyar, Women and an Ethic of Citizenship.” Economic and Political Weekly 33.17 (1998): 9-15.
● Geetha, V. and S. V. Rajadurai. Towards a Non-Brahmin Milennium: From Iyothee Thass to Periyar. Samya, 2011.
● Goldenberg, Maya J. “The Problem of Exclusion in Feminist Theory and Politics: A Metaphysical Investigation into Constructing a Category of ‘Woman’.” Journal of Gender Studies 16.2 (2007): 139-153.
● Gopal, Meena. “Caste, sexuality and labour: The troubled connection.” Current Sociology 60.2 (2012): 222-238.
● Guru, Gopal. “Dalit Women Talk Differently.” Economic and Political Weekly 30.41/42 (1995): 2548-2550.
● —. “Limits of the organic intellectual: A Gramscian reading of Ambedkar.” The Political Philosophies of Antonio Gramsci and B. R. Ambedkar. Ed. Cosimo Zene. Routledge, 2013. 87-100.
● —. “The Interface between Ambedkar and the Dalit Cultural Movement in Maharashtra.” Dalit Identity and Politics. Ed. Ghanshyam Shah. Vol. 2. Sage, 2001. 160-194.
● Harish, Ranjana. Indian Women’s Autobiographies. Arnold Publishers, 1993.
● Ilaiah, Kancha. “Dalitism and Brahmanism: The Epistemological Conflict in History.” Dalit Identity and Politics. Ed. Ghanshyam Shah. Sage publications, 2001. 108-128.
● —. “Reservations: Experience as Framework of Debate.” Economic and Political Weekly 25.41 (1990): 2307-2310.
● —. Why I am not a Hindu: A Sudra Critique of Hindtva Philosophy, Culture, and Political Economy. Bhatkal and Sen, 1996.
● Jadhav, A. S. “Dalit among Dalits: Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe Women.” Dalit Women: Issues and Perspectives. Ed. P. G. Jogdand. Gyan Publishing House, 1995. 175-187.
● Jogdand, P. G. Dalit Women: Issues and Perspectives. Gyan Publishing House, 1995.● John, Mary E. and Janaki Nair. A Question of Silence: The Sexual Economies of Modern India. Zed Books, 1998.
● John, Mary E. Women’s Studies in India: A Reader. Ed. Mary E. John. Penguin, 2008● Kannabiran, Kalpana and Ritu Menon. From Mathura to Manorama: Resisting Violence Against Women in India. Women Unlimited, 2007.
● Karlekar, Malavika. Voices from Within: Early Personal Narratives of Bengali Women. Oxford University Press, 1993.
● Kazi, Seema (ed.). Gender and Governance: Perspectives from South Asia. Zubaan, 2019.
● Keer, Dhananjay. Dr Ambedkar: Life and Mission. Popular Prakashan, 1990. ● —. Mahatma Jotirao Phooley: Father of the Indian Social Revolution. Popular Prakashan, 1964.
● Kruks, Sonia. Retrieving Experience: Subjectivity and Recognition in Feminist Politics. Cornell University Press, 2001.
● Kumar, Radha. The History of Doing. Kali for Women, 1993.
● Lerner, Gerda. The Creation of Patriarchy. OUP, 1988.
●Mani, Braj Ranjan. Debrahmanising History: Dominance and Resistance in Indian Society. Manohar, 2005.
● Mani, Lata. “Contentious Traditions: The Debate on Sati in Colonial India.” Recasting Women: Essays in Colonial History. Ed. Kumkum Sangari and Sudesh Vaid. Kali for Women, 1989. 88-126.
● Mazumdar, Vina and Kumud Sharma. “Women's Studies: New Perceptions and the Challenges.” Economic and Political Weekly 14.3 (1979): 113+115-120.
● Menon, Nivedita. Seeing Like a Feminist. Zubaan books, 2012.
● Menon, Ritu. Making a Difference: Memoirs from Women’s Movement in India. Ed. Ritu Menon. Women Unlimited, 2011.
● O’Hanlon, Rosalind. Caste, Conflict, and Ideology: Mahatma Jotirao Phule and Low caste Protest in Nineteenth Century India. Permanent Black, 2014.
● Omvedt, Gail. “A Teacher and a Leader.” A Forgotten Liberator: The Life and Struggle of Savitribai Phule. Ed. Braj Ranjan Mani and Pamela Sardar. Mountain Peak, 2008. 28-31.
● —. Dalits and the Democratic Revolution: Dr. Ambedkar and the Dalit Movement in Colonial India. Sage, 1994.
● —. “Jotirao Phule and the Ideology of Social Revolution in India.” Economic and Political Weekly 6.37 (1971): 1969-1979.
● Pan, Anandita. Mapping Dalit Feminism: Towards an Intersectional Standpoint. Sage-Stree, 2020.
● Pandit, Maya. “Gendered Subaltern Sexuality and the State.” Economic and Political Weekly XLVIII.32 (2013): 33-38.
● Panjabi, Kavita. Unclaimed Harvest: An Oral History of the Tebhaga Women's Movement. Zubaan, 2017.
● Patil, Smita M. “Revitalising Dalit Feminism: Towards Reflexive, Anti-Caste Agency of Mang and Mahar Women in Maharashtra.” Economic and Political Weekly XLVIII.18 (2013): 37-43.
● Pawade, Kumud. “The Life of a Dalit Woman.” Dalit Women: Issues and Perspectives. Ed. P. G. Jogdand. Trans. Nalini Pant. Gyan Publishing House, 1995. 156-168.
● Pawar, Urmila and Meenakshi Moon. We Also Made History: Women in the Ambedkarite Movement. Trans. Wandana Sonalkar. Zubaan, 2014.
● Pawar, Urmila. “What has the Dalit movement offered to women?” At Crossroads: Dalit Movement Today. Ed. Sandeep Pendse. Vikas Adhyayan Kendra, 1994. 83-94.
● Periyar, E.V. Ramasami. Women Enslaved. Critical Quest, 2010.
● Phule, Jotirao. Selected Writings of Jotirao Phule. Ed. G. P. Deshpande. LeftWord, 2002.
● Rajan, Rajeswari Sunder. Real and Imagined Women: Gender, Culture and Postcolonialism. Routledge, 1993.
● —. The Scandal of the State: Women, Law, and Citizenship in Postcolonial India. Duke University Press, 2003.
● Rao, Anupama (ed.). Gender and Caste. Kali for Women, 2003.
● —. The Caste Question: Dalits and the Politics of Modern India. Permanent Black, 2010.
● Rege, Sharmila. Against the Madness of Manu: B. R. Ambedkar’s Writings on Brahmanical Patriarchy. Navayana, 2013.
● —. “Dalit Women Talk Differently: A Critique of Difference and Towards a Dalit Feminist Standpoint Position.” Economic and Political Weekly 33.44 (1998): 39-46.
● —. Writing Caste/Writing Gender: Reading Dalit Women’s Testimonios. New Delhi: Zubaan, 2006.
● Sangari, Kumkum. “Politics of Diversity – Religious Communities and Multiple Patriarchies” (Part 1+2). Economic and Political Weekly 30.51+30.52 (1995): 3287-3310 + 3381-3389.
● Sarkar, Tanika. Words to Win: The Making of a Modern Autobiography. Zubaan, 2013.● Sen, Ilina. A Space Within the Struggle: Women's Participation in People's Movements. Kali for Women, 1990.
● Stree Shakti Sanghatana. We were making history . . .: Life stories of women in the Telangana Peoples’ Struggle. Ed. K. Lalita, et al. Kali for Women, 1989. ● Subramaniam, Mangala. The Power of Women's Organizing: Gender, Caste, and Class in India. Lexington Books, 2006.
● Subramanian, M. K. Periyar and the Self-Respect Philosophy. Tamizh Kudiarasu Pathippagam, 2009.
● Sundarayya, P. Telengana People’s Struggle and its Lessons. Communist Party India (Marxist), 1972.
● Tharu, Susie and K. Lalita. Women Writing in India: 600 B.C. to the Present. 2 vols. The Feminist Press, 1991.

Instructor bio


IISER Bhopal
Prof. Anandita Pan is an Assistant Professor of English at the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, IISER Bhopal. researches and publishes in the areas of Feminist theory, Gender studies, Dalit feminism, Dalit studies, Bengal Partition. She has published in journals such as Economic and Political Weekly, South Asian Review, Indian Journal of Gender Studies, Contemporary South Asia, Contemporary Voice of Dalit. Her book, Mapping Dalit Feminism: Towards an Intersectional Standpoint (Sage-Stree, 2020) explores the ways in which different forms of discrimination combine and overlap, challenging the apparent homogeneity of the categories, ‘woman’ and ‘Dalit’ as seen by mainstream Indian Feminism and Dalit Politics. It discusses at length the contributions of an intersectional standpoint in re-orienting the existing epistemological frameworks of caste and gender.

Course certificate

The course is free to enroll and learn from. But if you want a certificate, you have to register and write the proctored exam conducted by us in person at any of the designated exam centres.
The exam is optional for a fee of Rs 1000/- (Rupees one thousand only).
Date and Time of Exams: 30 April 2023 Morning session 9am to 12 noon; Afternoon Session 2pm to 5pm.
Registration url: Announcements will be made when the registration form is open for registrations.
The online registration form has to be filled and the certification exam fee needs to be paid. More details will be made available when the exam registration form is published. If there are any changes, it will be mentioned then.
Please check the form for more details on the cities where the exams will be held, the conditions you agree to when you fill the form etc.


Average assignment score = 25% of average of best 3 assignments out of the total 4 assignments given in the course.
Exam score = 75% of the proctored certification exam score out of 100

Final score = Average assignment score + Exam score

YOU WILL BE ELIGIBLE FOR A CERTIFICATE ONLY IF AVERAGE ASSIGNMENT SCORE >=10/25 AND EXAM SCORE >= 30/75. If one of the 2 criteria is not met, you will not get the certificate even if the Final score >= 40/100.

Certificate will have your name, photograph and the score in the final exam with the breakup.It will have the logos of NPTEL and IISER Bhopal. It will be e-verifiable at nptel.ac.in/noc.

Only the e-certificate will be made available. Hard copies will not be dispatched.

Once again, thanks for your interest in our online courses and certification. Happy learning.

- NPTEL team

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