ECSAS 2023 – Turin 26-29 July

02 – Rewriting Hindu Women within Contemporary Popular Media

This panel seeks to explore representations of Hindu women in contemporary popular film and literature.


Diana Dimitrova - Professor, Faculty of Arts and Science, The Montreal Centre for International Studies
Tracy Pintchman - Professor, Department of Theology, Loyola University Chicago
Deepra Dandekar - Researcher, Contested Religion Unit, Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient, Berlin

Long Abstract

This panel seeks to explore representations of Hindu women in contemporary popular film and literature. The last three decades constitute a period of great transformation for India, shaped by profound economic, social, political, and religious transformation. The rise of the internet and the neoliberal economy in particular have helped create and perpetuate spaces that allow for querying and even inverting “traditional” Brahmanical Hindu norms. What are the implications of all this tumult when it comes to contemporary, popular representations of Hindu women and the ways Hindu women’s roles are mediated to contemporary audiences worldwide? This session focuses on this question, exploring the assumptions inherent in contemporary, popular works about the values that twenty-first century Hindu audiences find appealing, particularly when it comes to gender. We propose that contemporary, popular media constitutes a fertile intellectual domain where transformative possibilities are charted as a space of negotiation between what is real, what is agential, and what is possible for women. Our panel posits this negotiation as a central thematic of rediscovery pertaining to women’s layered relationships within and outside the family. The narratives we explore demarcate contemporary transformation in women’s lives, portraying intricate, gendered trajectories that mitigate conflict, accept and negotiate, express disavowal, and broker women’s individual agency. The media we explore here demonstrate both endorsement and subversion when it comes to traditional gender norms, with implications for Hindu women’s everyday worlds.


The New Indian Woman and Her Others in Alankrita Shrivastava’s films
Abdali Zainab - Rice University, English, Houston, United States
Umbartha: The Metaphors of Gendered Limitations in Marathi Cinema
Dandekar Deepra - Leibmiz-Zentrum Moderner Orient, Berlin, Germany
Unplanned pregnancies: the value of essentialized motherhood in Kabir Singh and Thappad
Dhar Sharma Vyoma - University of Oxford, Department of International Development, Oxford, United Kingdom
Rewriting Hindu Women in Popular Films
Dimitrova Diana - University of Montreal, Institute of Religious Studies, Montreal, Canada
Violence, Care, and Empowered Motherhood in the Netflix series Mai: A Mother’s Rage
Dueholm Amalie Goul - University of Washington, Seattle, Cinema and Media Studies, Seattle, United States
Re-imagining the Hindu Maternal Subject through Revisionist Popular Narratives.
J Mruthula - IIT Madras, Humanities and Social Sciences, Chennai, India
A Sītā for the New Millenium: Representing Sītā in Amish Tripathi’s Fantasy “Ramchandra” Series
Pintchman Tracy - Loyola University Chicago, Theology and Religious Studies, Chicago, United States
Idols to Individuals- The Formation of the Independent Hindu Women in Recent Malayalam Films