Locating Violence in Kusum Kumar’s Suno Shefali (Listen Shefali)
Keywords:Violence, Dalit, untouchability, intersectionality, self-respect, feminism
AbstractIndia has a long tradition of social dramas that dates back to the 19th century. Such plays have been instrumental in raising social and political awareness among the masses. Located within this strong tradition of ‘socials’, is Kusum Kumar’s hard-hitting play Suno Shefali (Listen Shefali). Originally written in Hindi in 1975 and published in 1978, the play is significant for it engages with violence and oppression at the intersection of caste, class and gender at a time when feminist scholars had not theorized intersectionality as an important analytical tool of analysis. The play also predates several important Indian plays, especially by the male playwright, that deal with the problems of caste system in India. In this essay, I will attempt to study various forms of violence committed on a Dalit woman at the intersection of gender, caste and class in Kumar’s Listen Shefali using theoretical concepts like Kimberle Crenshaw’s ‘intersectionality’, Johan Galtung’s ‘structural violence’, M. Weigert’s ‘personal violence’, Pierre Bourdieu’s ‘symbolic violence’ and Gayatri Chakravarty Spivak’s ‘epistemic violence’.
BHATIA, Nandi. 2010. Performing Women/Performing Womanhood: Theatre, Politics, and Dissent in North India. New Delhi: Oxford UP. https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198066934.001.0001
BUHLER, George. 1986. The Laws of Manu (Manusmriti) (Vol. 25 of the Sacred Book of the East). Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1886.
BOURDIEU, Pierre. 2001. Masculine Domination. Translated by Richard Nice. Stanford: Stanford UP.
CRENSHAW, Kimberlé. 1989. “Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory and Antiracist Politics.” University of Chicago Legal Forum 1: 139-167.
CRENSHAW, Kimberlé. 1991. “Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence against Women of Colour.” Stanford Law Review 43 (6): 1241-1299. https://doi.org/10.2307/1229039
GALTUNG, Johan. 1969. “Violence, Peace, and Peace Research.” Journal of Peace Research 6 (3): 167-191. https://doi.org/10.1177/002234336900600301
JHA, Niraj Kumar and A. P. S. Chouhan. 2011. “Periyar: Radical Liberalism.” In Indian Political Thought: Themes and Thinkers. In Singh and Roy, 185-200.
KAVYATIRTHA, Narayan Ram Acharya, ed. 1946. The Manusmriti with the Commentary Manavarthamuktavali of Kulluka (Various Readings, Foot-Notes, Indices, etc. Tenth Edition. Bombay: Nirnaya Sagar Press.
KUMAR, Kusum. 2005. “Suno Shefali” [Listen Shefali]. Trans. by B.T. Seetha. In Staging Resistance: Plays by Women in Translation. In Mukherjee, 182-228.
KUMAR, Kusum. 2018. “Suno Shefali” [Listen Shefali]. In Samagra Naatak [Complete Plays]. New Delhi: Kitabghar, 295-367.
KURTZ, Lester R. 2005. Encyclopedia of Violence, Peace, and Conflict. Amsterdam: Elsevier/Acad. Press.
MATHUR, Kanchan. 2008. “Body as Space, Body as Site: Bodily Integrity and Women's Empowerment in India.” Economic and Political Weekly 43(17): 54-63.
MOHANTY, Chandra Talpade. 1984. “Under Western Eyes: Feminist Scholarship and Colonial Discourses.” Boundary 2 12 (3): 333-358. https://doi.org/10.2307/302821
MUKHERJEE, Tutun. 2005. “Prolegomenon to Women’s Theatre.” Staging Resistance: Plays by Women in Translation. In Mukherjee, 155-157. https://doi.org/10.1057/palgrave.fr.9400309
MUKHERJEE, Tutun, ed. 2005. Staging Resistance: Plays by Women in Translation. New Delhi: Oxford UP.
Nelson, Cary and Lawrence Grossberg. 1988. Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture. Hampshire: Macmillan.
SINGH, M.P. and Himanshu Roy, eds. 2011. Indian Political Thought: Themes and Thinkers. Delhi: Pearson.
SPIVAK, Gayatri Chakravarty. 1988. “Can the Subaltern Speak?” In Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture. In Nelson and Grossberg, 271-313. Delhi: Shakti Books.
SUBRAMANYAM, Lakshmi, ed. 2002. Muffled Voices. Women in Modern Indian Theatre.
TANEJA, Jaidev. 2002. “Contradictions and Complexities: Women in Modern Hindi Drama.” In Subramanyam, 76–90.
WEIGERT, Kathleen M. 2005. “Structural Violence.” In Encyclopedia of Violence, Peace, and Conflict, 2nd edition. In Kurtz, 2004-2011. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-012373985-8.00169-0
How to Cite
Copyright (c) 2023 Vikram Singh Thakur
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.