Why culture matters: rethinking the language of feminist politics
The Inter-Asia Project, not least as it is exemplified in the IACS Journal, has enabled a variety of stimulating conversations across Asia. One such productive site of engagement with ‘Asian’ questions has been feminism. Although there are strong women’s movements in many countries in the region, they often deal by necessity with local issues (unless there are cross-border aspects involved, as in the case of sex-trafficking or migrants), and it is not always easy to find a point of access for understanding how different feminisms may speak to one another. I suggest that it may be necessary to go beyond looking at the real-time questions of feminist politics, and instead examine more closely the locations from where the questions originate. Such an examination, I propose, will have to focus on why culture matters to feminism. Having taken this detour, my essay will come back to the present to reflect on a new development in Indian feminism.
Tejaswini Niranjana is Senior Fellow at the Centre for the Study of Culture and Society, Bangalore, India. Her most recent book is Mobilizing India: Women, Music and Migration between India and Trinidad (Duke UP, 2006). She is also executive editor of the Inter-Asia Cultural Studies journal.