Gender and Early Writings of Malayali Women, 1898–1938
Edited by J. Devika
Translated for the first time into English, these 29 pieces of early writings of Malayali women (1898–1938)―Nambutiris, Nairs, Ezhavas, Syrian Christians and two Muslims―who had access to education, reveal the vigorous debate over modern gender relations that was taking place. Women reflected on what was ‘Womanly’ and on education, duties, vocation and civil roles―an ongoing discussion, first influenced by reformism and later by nationalist and communist ideas. In her new Preface for this reprint, author talks of how the collection offers many genealogies for Malayali feminism, making it both local and cosmopolitan. Indeed, this genealogy enables us to address many of the challenges that mainstream feminism in India now faces, for example, that of developing intersectional analyses of patriarchal oppression.
Taken together, these pieces are efforts to define, in their unique ways, ‘women’s perspectives’ as specifically oppositional standpoints. Many are replies, rejoinders and responses to male public figures who claimed to speak on behalf of a ‘general good’, especially of women.