Seminar: "How do you ask for rights that you always already have? Gender at the Margins of the Postcolonial Nation-State " by Prof. Papori Bora, Centre for Women's Studies, JNU
This paper draws on feminist insights on difference to engage with the postcolonial political condition of India’s Northeast. It theorizes the political condition of the Northeast as an inclusive exclusion, i.e., as a political condition of being simultaneously included and excluded from structures of representation at the same time. Specifically, I argue that although the region is legally included in the Indian state as an equal, it cannot be included within the inclusionary logic that provides the legal category of Indian citizenship with its force. At the heart of this analysis is a feminist reading of a public protest in Manipur in July 2004 to oppose the rape and custodial killing of a young Meitei woman, Thangjam Manorama. What is remarkable about this protest from a feminist and postcolonial perspective is its gendered framing—a group of women protested naked holding a banner that read “Indian army rape us." By situating the protest within the larger political struggles of the region, the paper shows the potential of gender to interrogate the categories of the “nation" and the “state” and to expose and confront sites of discrimination that exist at their intersection.
Papori Bora is an Assistant Professor, Centre for Women's Studies, JNU, New Delhi. Her research is at the intersection of politics, sociology, history and feminism, in the areas of political representation, citizenship and the postcolonial nation-state, politics of indigeneity and ethnicity, feminist theory. Her research has been published in peer reviewed journals and as book chapters. Currently she is working on two manuscripts, one on the political history of citizenship in India’s Northeast titled Inclusive—Exclusion: A Political History of India’s Northeast and second Bodies, Vulnerabilities and Resistances: Feminist Politics at the Margins of the Nation-State.