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Conflict Ecologies: Gender, Genre, and Environment in Narratives of Violent Conflict in Postcolonial India Open Access

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My dissertation studies contemporary literary and cinematic narratives about violent conflicts that have affected ideas of Indian nationhood from 1988 to the present: Hindu-Muslim riots, the Kashmir and Maoist insurgencies, and terrorist violence in Indian metropolitan cities. Postcolonial studies has predominantly focused on the experience of British colonialism and Indian nationalism. Recent studies have extended this to questions about gender and caste in modern India. My dissertation intervenes in these dominant foci by turning to new Anglophone literature and Bollywood films about India that address how political violence intersects with gendered, class, and environmental violence. Engaging with recent scholarship on gender and citizenship, postcolonial eco-criticism, and material eco-criticism, I contend that the literatures and films I consider, offer important critical-ethical accounts of the conflict zone in three ways: one, by unpacking sites of conflict violence as sites of encounter amongst humans, animals, nature, and objects they uncover the complex, lived experiences of conflict violence that challenge and complicate hegemonic accounts of the conflict as primarily sites of spectacular violence. Two, they limn complex agencies within the conflict zone, dislodge the overwhelming duress, and enable the imagination of post-conflict communities from within these sites of encounter. And three, by attending to how the experience of political violence is exacerbated by “slow violence” (Rob Nixon), these texts underscore the importance of both social and ecological justice in imaginaries of inclusive, non-violent, post-conflict communities in the present day and age.

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