The links between women's movement and the discipline of Women's Studies should be strengthened, said sociologist Maithreyi Krishnaraj, arguing for an academic approach that is not esoteric and distanced from society.

She was delivering the keynote address after releasing Sudha Sitharaman's book, Mahila Adhyayana: Samajashastreeya Adhyayana (Women's Studies: A Sociological Perspective), published by Streelekha, here on Wednesday.

Pros and cons

She said that unlike in the West where Women's Studies had grown as the “academic arm of the women's movement”, the introduction of the discipline into academics in India had been through the official channels, which had both positive and negative implications.

The discipline had now come of age and had been a publication success as well, she said. The role of an organisation like the Indian Association of Women's Studies in the growth of the discipline since the 1970s needed to be studied now, she added.

Handicap

Dr. Sitharaman said the book reflected her “double location, one as an academic and a teacher of sociology and the other as an activist.” Introducing Women's Studies in colleges, especially in a government college where boys outnumbered girls, had been a challenge, she added. She pointed out that absence of books in Kannada had often proved a handicap.

Hijra activist and author Revathi, who released the book, said the easy equation drawn between gender and body was misplaced, leading to criminalisation and ostracism of the transgender communities.

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