The Medieval in Film and Gendered Citizenship

The Medieval in Film: Representing a Contested Time on the Indian Screen (1920s 1960s) by Urvi Mukhopadhyay from Orient Blackswan.

Wars, nationalism, economic depression, colonisation, decolonisation and, more recently, globalisation, have affected perceptions of contemporary as well as past worlds. Cinema, a popular medium directed to the broadest possible audience, has reacted to and in turn shaped the changing political, social and economic conditions of the times. This book investigates how the cinematic medium negotiated the dominant ideas of history in order to construct a range of historical imageries. Focusing on the medieval epoch—a notion of historical age which came only during the colonial period as an equivalent to the European idea of Middle Ages—it studies the influences of various nationalist imaginations of the past, unmistakably present after the emergence of a mass-based nationalist movement in the 1920s and 30s.

The ‘pre-modern’ idea of society and governance in the medieval period came under attack from the ‘modern’ colonial rulers. Also, because of its association with the Islamic ruling class it was criticised by the dominant ‘Hindu’ nationalist ethos of the time. The volume examines this contested time on screen, and raises questions like: How did the internal organisation of the film industry guide the articulations of certain stereotypical images of the ‘medieval’ during the 1920s to 1960s?

How did dominant historiographical interpretations influence a popular production like film in the colonial and the post-colonial situation? Did the cinematic representation succeed in codifying ‘medieval reality’ with stereotypes other than that of elitist vision of historicity? With an extensive filmography and detailed bibliography, the words that populate the book are also complemented with glimpses of posters and scenes from the films discussed in the book. An important read for students and scholars of film studies, history, visual anthropology, South Asian studies and culture studies.

Rs. 790, in hardcover, 348 pages, ISBN: 9788125050988

Gendered Citizenship: Historical and Conceptual Explorations by Anupama Roy from Orient Blackswan.

Through successive historical periods, ‘becoming a citizen’ has involved a gradual extension of equal membership to more and more persons and groups. However, the promise of equality masks the exclusionary framework of caste hierarchies, gender differences, and religious divides, which determine actual experiences of citizenship. Historically, citizenship was constituted through a series of exclusions whereby large sections of people, (colonised societies, slaves, women and workers) were considered inadequate for it. Citizenship is therefore made up of multiple margins, but it also releases powerful new imaginaries and practices of citizenship.

This revised edition of Gendered Citizenship (first published in 2005) examines the gendering of citizenship. In the context of resistance against the colonial rule, the language of citizenship that emerged in late colonial India was based on a gendered notion of the community—both national and political. Pulling in arguments on how the Indian Constitution transformed the idea of citizenship, it teases out the plural sites of citizenship which existed at this moment, and traces the forms in which idioms of citizenship endure in contemporary times. 

It explores in particular the landscapes of new citizenship which have emerged in the form of flexible citizenship with graded entitlements, as distinguished from spaces of stable citizenship. It proposes that a concerted effort towards an interactive public space can congeal into shared bonds of citizenship. This book will be valuable for advanced students, researchers and scholars of political science, history, sociology and gender studies. It would also be helpful to those studying social exclusion and the general reader interested in debates over gender and citizenship.

Rs. 395, in paperback, 308 pages, ISBN: 9788125052845