Research Projects

The Rediscovery of India:

The Rediscovery of India:


A Re-thinking and Repossession through Theatre and Cinema by the Centre of Advanced Studies in India & the University of Cologne, Germany

Researchers: Professor Beate Neumeier, University of Cologne
Professor Nilufer E. Bharucha, CASII
Professor Sridhar Rajeswaran, CASII

The Objectives:

The objectives of this research project are to help comprehend India, within India itself as it is emerging in the new millennium and within the European context where the older Orientalist construct of India exists side by side with the new globalised India. A thorough comprehension of how these ancient links continue to have importance in the new multicultural and even global order is thus of extreme importance, if one is to fully benefit from such old and new ties. One aspect that could be useful in understanding these issues would be to explore possibilities from the realms of theatre and cinema.

Not just Indian Theatre in English would be considered, but also theatre in the important languages of India, especially those theatres which are today in a dynamic mode such as the Hindi theatre, the Gujarati theatre the Marathi theatre and the Tamil theatre. Also not to be ignored would be the oral traditions in theatre, especially the tribal traditions as these are the ones which capture the primordial rhythms of the earth and refashion them to represent the lived realities of cultures caught between old and new worlds.

While Hindi films - Bollywood - would be an obvious choice for the study of Indian society and the ideologies of popular culture, at least one more important Indian cinema would be taken on board to avoid Hindi hegemony, in a multilingual, multicultural country like India. So the inclusion of Tamil cinema which has its own iconic, cultural and political importance would also be an area of critical concern for this project. Also of interest would be the Diasporic Indian Cinema which represents Indian culture in Western spaces, produced by both Indian as well as Diasporic film makers.

Methodology:

This project envisages the fulfillment of the objectives outlined above in two distinct modes: Accumulation:
1. The theoretical investigation and practical exploration in theatre and cinema.
2. The theoretical investigation and the practical aspect would both be split within the Indian and Western geographical spaces, making this a truly multinational initiative.

Dissemination:

1. The organization of symposiums, workshops, conferences in India and in Germany on the target area.
2. The publication of the proceedings of the above events, monographs by individual researchers and articles in scholarly journals.
3. The putting together of some/all of the above in audio/video documents
4. To create a data base on Indian theatres and cinemas in the context of the Re-Imaging of the Indian Nation for purposes of future research.

Time-Frame:

This project is planned over three years.

Archiving of the Research Findings:

These publications, data base and audio-visual documents would be housed in the Centre for Advanced Studies in India, and be accessible to research scholars from India and abroad. They would also be made available through Scholarship Gateway - the internet portal of CASII.



Research Project on Pornography and Violence against Women:

Research Project on Pornography and Violence against Women:


Researchers:

-Professor Dr. Sridhar Rajeswaran
Ms. Kirti Javadekar

This project is focussed on a historical perspective on the manner in which pornography in the 20th Century, in the print and electronic media, has moved from titillation and desire, to covert acts of violence directed against women, to gross violence against women - bordering on the abject and disgusting.

The researchers will be looking at pornographic texts in Indian as well as European languages and considering 'Girlie' magazines and the kind of changes that have come about in the amount and nature of the exposure of female flesh in these publications. The focus in the analysis of 'adult' DVDs and 'Blue'films will be in the area of how the basic story line, usually based on innocuous fairy tales, has given way to straight-forward depictions of sado-masochistic sex act. Thus the narrative and even aesthetics have been abandoned in latter day sex videos.

Another disturbing angle to such pornographic texts is the use of almost childlike female bodies, almost androgynous, which borders on criminal child pornography.

There is also more girl-on-girl sex videos today than ever before for 'straight' men.

This research is also further focussed on heterosexual sex rather than on Gay sex as that would be another aspect of research altogether.

It is the objective of the researchers to find out how the change in woman as the supposed object of desire and sexual fulfilment in the earlier pornographic texts has now become woman as a victim of sexual violence. If this hypothesis were to be proved true then does such violence on women in the pornographic context also lead to an increase in actual violence random, systematic, domestic, related, unrelated on women? The project will also be looking at the impact of such pornographic texts on the women viewers. What kind of an impact do they have in the context of self-image? How much of this brutality shown in the print and electronic texts is internalised by the female viewer? What is the result of this on a woman's self-image? Above all what kind of an influence does such violence have on heterosexual relations given the wide availability and viewing/reading of pornography today?

Yet another aspect of the female consumption of such blatantly violent pornographic texts is the fact that many of them are presented to the supposedly liberated woman of today as an act of female autonomy and female sexuality. This however could be a covert act of continuing patriarchy instead where the woman continues to be objectified and this time in extremely violent ways.

This project is currently undertaken by CASII alone, but research partners and contributions from other scholars/academics from around the world would be welcome in this project.



Women and Ageing in Indian Culture & Society

Women and Ageing in Indian Culture & Society


By the Centre of Advanced Studies in India & the University of Dusseldorf, Germany Researchers:
Professor Dr. Sridhar Rajeswaran, CASII
Professor Dr. Monika Gomille, University of Dusseldorf, Germany
The Objectives:

This project aims to locate the problems of women in the context of ageing through different narratives as made available in Indian Culture & Society.

Such a wide and open-ended heading emphasises the need to specify the range of operations mandating thus a need to define certain boundaries, create certain parameters, within which one may operate.

The country chosen for study as a beginning is India. While the complexity of cultural conditions is an underscoring factor in the choice, the same complexity is also responsible for making it phase-wise, limiting scope in concordance to the resources available, establishing correspondences in such a way that it aids furtherance of its range through feed-backs to a preliminary work before the next level of building blocks can be set, the only way by which a delimiting enterprise can be embarked upon.

The target areas of investigation would be Indian Literature and Cinemas in Indian languages from different geographical zones to get a wider sample. Also under the scanner would be interviews with ageing women and a documentation of their life experiences.

Further investigations would focus on Indian religious and cultural text and the manner in which ageing Indian women are regarded in them. Oral texts from tribal and non-literate cultures would also be considered.

Methodology:

Stage 1:
a) Review of theoretical/sociological/religious/political/creative Literature on the subject
b) Collection of oral narratives on the subject

Stage 2:
a) Field trips to target geo-political areas to interview target subjects
b) Interviews with writers, critics, social activists
c) Meetings and workshops in India and Germany to discuss data collected

Dissemination:

Stage 3:
a) Interpretation, analysis and collation of findings
b) Reporting in print form of findings
c) Preparation of findings for publication
d) The organization of symposiums, workshops, conferences in India and in Germany on the target area.
e) The publication of the proceedings of the above events, monographs by individual researchers and articles in scholarly journals.
f) The putting together of some/all of the above in audio/video documents.
g) To create a data base on Women and Ageing in the context of India.

Time-Frame:

This project is planned over three years and the three stages will represent the work to be done in the three years.

Archiving of the Research Findings:

These publications, data base and audio-visual documents would be housed in the Centre for Advanced Studies in India, and be accessible to research scholars from India and abroad. They would also be made available through Scholarship Gateway - the internet portal of CASII.