Nārīvāda : Gender, Culture & Civilization Network
The IGNCA is premier national institution engaged in the preservation, dissemination of knowledge in the fields of arts, culture, lifestyle studies and folklore. It encompasses the experience and study of all the artistic traditions that enhance human life. One of the major aims of the Centre is to elucidate the formative and dynamic factors in the complex web of interactions among diverse social strata, communities, regions and gender as inherent in the rich cultural heritage of India. The IGNCA is concerned with the integral study of culture pertinent to the Indian ethos and reality. This approach presupposes an interdisciplinary dialogue among disciplines.
In the past the Centre has been involved in projecting several dimensions of women's creativity in the field of photography, fine arts, performing arts and the indigenous expressions of women through local knowledge systems such as, embroidery, crafts, poetry, folklore and rituals. In 2003, the IGNCA organized an international seminar on "Reframing Gender in the Context of Culture of India". The seminar brought together eminent scholars from different disciplines to explore the ways in which cultural resources can be used as a tool for the empowerment of women. Nārīvāda: Gender, Culture and Civilization Network is a spin off from the various exploratory efforts of IGNCA in the field of gender and culture.
In recent years, most explorations in the field of gender and culture in India have been viewed from a Marxist, Socialist, Liberal or Modern perspective in the context of the socio-political reality of our society. These approaches have consigned cultural resources, such as religious scriptures and texts, symbols, powerful feminine icons in oral and written tradition, myths, and legends, life-style of primal communities and grass-root traditions to the dust heap of history. In most cases, these cultural resources have been looked at from a Western or alien perspective and have suffered from the onslaught of the reductive theoretical positions that modernity adopts to view ancient or civilizational cultures. Can we make these areas as a point of departure for changing our attitudes towards the gender question? The primary aim of Nārīvāda Network is to look upon such hidden and hitherto neglected areas where culture becomes a main resource for women's empowerment. the main objectives is to revalidate the rich cultural resources to create a platform of discourse along with gender activism which presupposes the value of these resources.
Our partner networks in this venture include intersectoral government bodies, university faculties in India and abroad; academic experts in the field of gender, religion and cultural studies, NGO's, international agencies and a panel of distinguished resource persons.
The projects in this area cover research, publications, promoting awareness and advocacy, networking with other institutions, governmental bodies and resource persons, organizing seminars, conferences, colloquiums, workshops and catalyzing gender activism. the following two major projects are being explored:
Documentation on the Oral History of Women about the Making of the Indian Nation
The contemporary history of women's problems, roles and status presents a picture of complexity. Despite the explosion of research and publications, there are several crucial areas of research, which have been neglected. One area of profound significance is the relationship between women's empowerment and the process of socio-political formation that resulted in the birth of the Indian Nation. We will explore the alternative oral history of 'Her-stories of Nationalism' of women who were participants, onlookers, or receivers of stories of the freedom movement from the older generation of women. There are innumerable women whose silent voices need to be heard. Some contemporary feminists believe that collective feminism in India was born in the first wave feminism in the 1970's . This is untrue. The oral popular history of women matriots may prove otherwise.
The project proposes to record the retelling of the experiences, motivations and Gandhi's strategy of non-violent revolt from women's perspective. Regional and cultural pluralism of India makes these conversations a vivid historiography of the people who embody half the sky.
Documentation of Endangered Wisdom Traditions and Traditional Knowledge Systems of Women
This project aims to document and disseminate women's contribution to the endangered 'Intangible Heritage' in the following areas: (1) Aesthetic Systems: art and crafts; (2) Representations of Collective Memory: oral narratives, songs and legends; (3) Rituals and Ceremonies in the domestic and public spheres: (4) Traditional Environment Management Systems; (5) Traditional Healing Systems; and (6) Women's protection of food diversity and agrarian knowledge. In the first phase, we propose to carry out this research in Madhubani, Bihar, Chattisgarh, Orissa and in the states of Arunachal and Assam in North-eat India.
Dr. Madhu Khanna,
Associate Professor (Religious/Indic studies)
Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, Janpath, New Delhi - 110001, INDIA
Phone 91-11-55361997, 91-11-23389582
Fax no. 91-11-23381159