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Working Paper No. 03/2009

UCL Anthropology Working Papers Series

Department of Anthropology
University College London
14 Taviton Street, London
WC1H 0BW, U.K.

ISSN 1759-6688
Editorial Board: Sara Randall, Martin Holbraad

Working Paper No. 03/2009
Published online November 27, 2009
© Copyright rests with the authors



Dissertation submitted in 2007 for the BSc Anthropology

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This paper reflects upon the nature of the relationship between gender, agency and the body through a discussion of the politics of feminine representation in Indian cinema. In particular it brings together four films of Rituparno Ghosh, one of India’s most successful art house directors after Satyajit Ray, and offers a particular reading that, drawing heavily upon feminist anthropological frameworks that explore gender identity from the perspective of the body, seeks to explore how Ghosh ultimately represents women within an alternative framework that elides the more problematic framing of women in contemporary popular media and cinema. The paper suggests this is achieved by Ghosh’s strategic evocation of widely understood cultural modes of ‘body work’- the quotidian bodily practices such as walking, dressing and behaving that whilst associated with performing normative ‘traditional’ gender identity, can also form the site for subversive acts where the ‘topography of self’ or ‘body work’ of his female protagonists, becomes a productive and creative enterprise that effectively communicates individual subjective expression through the negotiation of widely recognised bodily ‘performance’.

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