South Asia

Organized Panel Session

3 - Listening to Everyday Women: The Affective Promise of the Hindu Code Bill Listening Tour

Friday, July 6
2:40 PM - 4:10 PM
Location: Mahogany, First Floor

As women’s rights activists in the All India Women’s Conference (AWIC) were making plans for their post-independence advocacy, the issue of personal law codes and their discrimination against women came up again and again. The issue of the discriminatory nature of the personal law codes was a perennial debate for the AIWC, and it is therefore not surprising that the Constitution committee would identify revision of Hindu Personal Law as a key component of its post-independence plan. Yet the ‘listening tour’ begun by the AIWC around India, which encouraged women to come out of purdah and onto a public stage to discuss their civil law needs, was not typical of the constitutional section’s other advocacies. In addition to the public gatherings of formally purdahnashin women telling their story, the organizers of the events also encouraged their audience to complete interviews with AIWC workers to produce questionnaires outlining the needs of ‘everyday’ women. This paper considers the purpose of these listening tour events to argue that the affective politics of personal narrative were being used to make an argument for the transformation of women as objects of law, however discriminatory, into individual women citizens petitioning the state. 

Emily Rook-Koepsel

University of Pittsburgh, United States

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