WOMENSTD 483 - Special Topics
Section: 001 Gender & Consumer Citizenship in Post-Colonial India
Term: FA 2006
Subject: Women's Studies (WOMENSTD)
Department: LSA Women's Studies
Credit Exclusions:
Degree credit is granted for a combined total of seven credits elected through WOMENSTD 481, 482, 483, and 484.
Advisory Prerequisites:
WOMENSTD 240 or permission of instructor.
May be repeated for a maximum of 7 credit(s). May be elected more than once in the same term.
Primary Instructor:

This seminar will consider the gendered politics of postcolonial capitalism in India, focusing on the growth of a consumer culture since the eighties. For four decades after independence in 1947, the government policy of import substitution led to a market that was dominated by locally produced commodities, with a limited numbers of brands. Since the 1990s the economy has been incrementally liberalized, and internationally branded commodities have flooded the domestic market, transforming consumer practices and public consumer cultures. Neoliberal market reforms have resulted in new roles for women as ‘consumer citizens’ among the middle and upper classes. We will examine this broad shift, evaluating the historical links between consumption, gender, and citizenship, and its implications for feminist politics. Drawing on feminist cultural studies, we will read interdisciplinary scholarship on consumerism in a variety of contexts: advertising and femininity, gendered commodities, consumption in public culture (such as popular film, literature, music, shopping-malls, and street culture), motherhood and domesticity, the work of selling commodities, and religious populism.

Throughout the academic term, we will be engaged in critically examining the representational strategies and theoretical approaches of various authors. In addition to comparing different approaches to feminist cultural criticism, our goal will be to read the politics of modernity in gendered consumer culture. We will thus examine some recent cultural flashpoints that have served as venues to define opposing political viewpoints—such as the recent controversies over the films ‘Fire’ and ‘Bandit Queen’, and on Beauty Pageants. For the interlocutors, what is at stake here is nothing short of defining who the ‘modern’ Indian woman is. In addition to developing a historically grounded understanding of the gendered construction of citizenship through consumerism, we will also think more generally about the place of consumption in the (re)production of gender in Indian modernity.

This course counts toward the Social Inequality and the Econ, Business, and Society sub-concentrations.

WOMENSTD 483 - Special Topics
Schedule Listing
001 (SEM)
Tu 3:00PM - 6:00PM
Note: Meets with Sociology 495-004
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