Women in Revolutionary Theatre: IPTA, Labor, and Performance

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This essay examines the ways in which theatre and dance offer possibilities to reassess the Indian nation-state’s historical failure to recognize women’s labor or grant women equal access to civil liberty. It also explores how performance allows for the emergence of women as empowered subjects in South Asia, in spite of the structural limitations of both colonial and anticolonial thought. By analyzing the contribution of women to both Gandhian and communist forms of nationalism, this essay questions previously established scholarship on the binaries of inner/outer or domestic/public within gendered Indian nationalism, and argues for a crucial third domain, that of women’s embodied resistance, which negotiated conservative and progressive notions of femininity through the body. The activism of women in the Indian People’s Theatre Association (IPTA) and their autobiographical narratives are privileged to reflect on the complex interrelationship between nationalism, embodiment, women’s unrecognized labor, and women’s agency.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)518-535
Number of pages18
JournalAsian Theatre Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 14 Sept 2015

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