Half an Independence: Women, Violence, and Modern Lives in India


Frederick Burkhardt Residential Fellowships for Recently Tenured Scholars


German, Russian, and Asian Languages and Literatures; Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies; and South Asian Studies


For residence at the National Humanities Center during academic year 2017-2018


This project is an investigation of rape narratives in modern India, which uses sexual violence as a prism to get at broader phenomena of modernization. It examines how Indians are recalibrating what it means to be modern and global in debates about rape. By reframing narratives of rape since India’s independence from Britain within India’s modernity, the project offers an alternative history of sexual violence, which eschews tradition, religion, and culture to focus instead on the relevance of modernity and nationalism in India’s present. After the Delhi case of 2012, public introspection focused on rural and class-based notions of gender and was less attentive to the rapid modernization of India from 1947 to the present. This project examines film, literature, popular culture, and ethnography through the lens of sexual violence to understand the particularities and ambivalences of modern lives in India.