The Scandal of the State

The Scandal of the State

Product ID: 13418

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Author: Rajeswari Sunder Rajan
Publisher: Permanent Black
Year: 2003
Language: English
Pages: 313
ISBN/UPC (if available): 8178240645


The Scandal of the State is a pathbreaking examination of the relationship between the postcolonial democratic Indian nation state and Indian women's actual needs and lives.

Rajeswari Sunder Rajan combines feminist theory and postcolonial studies to show how the state is central to understanding women's identities, and how, reciprocally women and women's issues affect the state's role and function. She argues that, for Indian women, law and citizenship define not only the scope of political rights but also cultural identity and everyday life.

Sunder Rajan delineates the postcolonial state in implicit contrast with the enlightened, post-feminist neo-liberal state in the West. Her analysis wrestles with complex social realities, taking into account the influence of age, ethnicity, religion, and class on individual and group identities as well as the shifting, heterogeneous nature of the state itself.

Through a series of compelling case studies, each centered around an incident exposing the contradictory position of the Indian state vis-à-vis its female citizens, this book demonstrates the inadequacy of the state's commitment to women's rights. IT focuses on the custody battle over a Muslim child bride; the compulsory sterilization of mentally retarded women in state institutional care; female infanticide in Tamilnadu; prostitution as labour rather than crime; and the surrender of Phoolan Devi.

It also looks at the ways the Uniform Civil Code presented may women with a stark choice between allegiance to their religion and community, or the secular assertion of individual rights.

Rich with theoretical acumen and activist passion, The Scandal of the State is a powerful critique of the mutual dependence of women and the state in the specific context of India's postcolonial modernity.


Utterly specific to postcolonial India and its feminist debates, this book is also a significant contribution to general feminist theory, and to the fraught question of the relationship of the postcolonial state to the international civil society, All feminists (and, indeed, anti-feminists) should read this book.
-Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak

The Scandal of the State is filled with Rajeswari Sunder Rajan's trademark scrupulousness and full documentation of opposing views, yet also with her characteristic wit and deep political wisdom. Her ultimate indictment of the realities of the Indian state is biting and utterly persuasive. This is a brilliant, pathbreaking book.
-Bruce Robbins




Introduction: Women, Citizenship, Law, and the Indian State


The Ameena Case: The Female Citizen and Subject
Beyond the Hysterectomies Scandal: Women, the Institution, Family and State


The Prostitution Question (s):
Female Agency, Sexuality, and Work

Women Between Community and State:
Some Implications of the Uniform Civil Code Debates


Children of the State?
Unwanted Girls in Rural Tamilnadu

Outlaw Women: The Politics of Phoolan Devi's Surrender, 1983