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An Ethics of Postcolonial Citizenship: Lessons from Reading Women Writing in India

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Abstract

This essay addresses the question of how the ethical values of the postcolonial subject are classed and gendered. A certain kind of postcolonial citizen, enjoying the privileges of birth and position, expresses an attitude that is best described (if somewhat anachronistically) as noblesse oblige. I focus on the writings of a handful of post-Independence Indian women writers, in particular Shama Futehally's novel Tara Lane (1993), as exemplifying this attitude. My essay will draw upon discussions by Indian feminists which, in different genres and informed by different politics, have set the stage for this historical, autobiographical and conceptual inquiry. Reading Indian women's fiction and Indian feminist theory and politics together, I trace their disjunctures and overlaps, merging these into an ethico-political inquiry about women and citizenship.

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