Gendered Urban Spaces: Narratives of Self- Possessions


A two-day ICSSR sponsored National Seminar on “ Gendered Urban Spaces: Narratives of Self- Possessions” was organized by the department of English, The IIS University , Jaipur on 17-18 Feb. 2017.

The inaugural and session I of the seminar began with lighting the lamps to seek divine blessings, after which Dr. Ashok Gupta honourable’ Vice Chancellor and Chairperson of the seminar extended a floral welcome to the  Key-note speaker of the inaugural session Prof. Sukrita Paul Kumar , a renowned poet and a critic. Dr. Ashok Gupta formally welcomed all the guests and delegates. He stated that this seminar had enabled the luminaries of literature to come together and to deliberate on the various issues related to gender studies.

Prof. N.K. Jain, Dean Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences highlighted the aims and objectives of the seminar. He said that the objective of the seminar was to explore the concept of urban spaces in relation to gender.The key note speaker Prof. Sukrita Paul Kumar began her address by highlighting the socio-cultural  and political associations that are the reasons for the problems related to gender issues. She stated that gender should not be restricted to feminism and there is an urgent need to look beyond binaries and of genders. She spoke on length on gendered urban spaces and emphasized upon the areas in order to explore these spaces. She even threw light on the various new areas to understand and study gendered urban spaces.

In the inaugural session Journal of Arts and Social Sciences was also released. Dr. Raakhi Gupta, Rectar and Registrar  presented mementos to the chief guest  of the seminar . The vote of thanks was delivered by Dr. Rimika Singhvi, the organizing secretary of the seminar, which was followed by high tea.


Day 1, Session II: The theme of the session was Gender and Space.

It was chaired by Prof. Suneetha Rani, University of Hyderabad. The invited speakers for the session were Prof. Nandita Bhatla, ICRW, New Delhi and Prof. Sumita Parmar, Allahbad University, Allahbad. Prof. Nandita Bhatla’s presentation on “ Standing on the Street- Rightful or Sinful” was based on her research on the city of Delhi in relation to the public space safety and use of public spaces , and the prevalence of different forms of sexual violence that women face.Prof. Sumita Parmar made her presentation on “Acess and Denial; Women, Gender and Space”. Through her paper she raised many questions related to women’s safety in the public and home spaces. Her paper provided an insight into the very interesting subject and enabled the audiences to comprehend the complexities of the spaces.The invited talks were followed by the presentations by the following speakers:

o             Srirupa Chatterjee (IIT Hyderabad, Kandi, Sangareddy) presented a paper on “ Urbanity, Visual Cultures and Appearence: Discrimination in Short Fiction by Contemporary American Women Writers”. The paper analysed how seemingly liberated urban spaces in contemporary American affront female personhood through oppressive beauty practices and appearance discrimination.

o             Bhumika Sharma (CURAJ, Ajmer) made her presentation on “ What is ‘Built’For Me? Gender-Coded Spaces”. She focused on how African-American women expand their constructive role through a deliberate transcendence of spatial boundaries of public and private spaces.

o             Gaurav Mathur (Manipal University, Jaipur) presented a paper on “ Aligning Gender and Spatiality in Select James Bond Movies”. The paper discussed the role of films in exploring gendered spaces.

o             Anita Hada Sangwan (The IIS University, Jaipur) made her presentation on  “Perception to Spaces in Urban Spaces”.She  discussed the concept of  gender and space through different aspects of age, class, caste and region.

The session II was followed by a group photograph of all the guests and delegates, after which lunch was served.


Day 1 , Session III: The theme of the session was Space and the Indian City.

The chairperson of the session was Prof. Nandita Bhatla ICRW, New Delhi The invited speakers for the session were Prof. Saraswati Raju, JNU, New Delhi and Prof.Deeptha Achar, MS University, Vadodara. Prof. Achar in her presentation “ Imagining the Gendered City: On Revisiting Karnad’s Boiled Beans on Toast” raised the question related to the confinement of women within the closed or safe spaces. Prof. Saraswati Raju in her presentation “ Public Spaces and Places and Gendered Intersectionalities in Indian Cities” stated that public spaces which are supposed to be gender neutral are not so in reality. The emergence of the othering process rises from the recognition given to women by making separate coaches for them in public transporters as daily metros. The invited talks were followed by the presentations by the following speakers:

o             Saidul Haaque’s ( Tehatta Govt. College Nadia, West Bengal) presentation was on “ Gendered Negotiation of Urban Spaces: A Study of Selected Bollywood Films”. The paper discussed the urban spaces through the recent female-centric bollywood films.

o             Shruti Rawal ( Sophia Girls’ College, Ajmer) presented a paper on

“ Space, Gender and Desires in Piya Ka Ghar and Lunch Box”.The paper attempted to discuss the space of womenfolk in Mumbai city through cinematic vision .

o             Sucharita Sharma ( The IIS University, Jaipur) made her presentation on “ Moving Beyond : From Given to Created Spaces in Mandi”.The paper explored the spaces like brothels, Kotha or mandi in urban cities in relation to the prostitutes through physical and psychological fragmentation.

o             Deepa Vanjani (PMB Gujrati Science College, Indore ) presented her paper on “Redifining Gender: From Zenana to Transgenders”.The paper explored some facts of urban gendered spaces and discussed the need to accommodate transgenders.    


Day 1 , Session IV: The theme of the session was Constructing Gendered Spaces.

The chairperson of the session was Prof. Deeptha Achar ,MS University, Vadodra.The invited speakers for the session were Prof. Rukmani Bhaya Nair ,IIT, Delhi and Prof.Supriya Agarwal , CURAJ, Ajmer. Prof. Rukmani Bhaya in her presentation “The Future of Cities and Cities of the Future : A Gendered Reading of Urban Geographies” focused on the emotional maps that males and females carry while experiencing various emotions within a city space.The next invited speaker of the session Prof. Supriya Agarwal in her presentation “ Gender –Space Dialectics in Contemporary Indian Women’s Writing” expressed that out of all the branches of social sciences, urban studies have been influenced by cultural interpretations of modernity. Such analysis was drawn on literary and artistic texts to create an understanding of the modern city, combining the methods of art, historians, literary critics and sociologists. The invited talks were followed by the presentations by the following speakers:

o             Divya Walia ( Cactus Communication, Jaipur) in her presentation“ Mamta Kalia’s Verses: A Voice of Longing for Space and Identity” explored how the urbanity and modernity of the environment in which the poet was born and raised influences her expression and how the dynamics of gender relations define space, both personal as well as territorial for a woman.

o             Manjula Arora ( Freelancer, New Delhi) made her presentation on“Gendered Urban Spaces in Margaret Atwood’s The Year of the Flood”. Her paper attempted to draw attention towards the exploiters who make females their scapegoats, thus presenting the flagging condition of the planet.

o             Priyanka Ruth Prim ( The IIS University, Jaipur) in her presentation “Possession of the Urban Space in American Cinema: A Case for Gender Equality in Infinitely Polar Bear” discussed the quality of self-possession by the woman that shows her innate strength in the face of adversity with help of examples from the film taken up for the study.

o             Chander Mohan (G.D.C. Dharmari, Jammu and  Kashmir) made his presentation on “ South Asian Women: A Saga of Struggle for Survival”. The paper presented the emergence of “an iconic woman” in the literary scene of Africa. The discussion of women space was taken up in relation to patriarchy and poverty. 


The session came to an end with a tea break which was followed by “Creative Writers’ Session ( Poetry – Reading)”.

The three panellists were Prof.Rukmani Bhaya Nair IIT, Delhi, Dr. Laxmi Kannan , New Delhi and Dr. Anita Hada Sangwan, The IIS University, Jaipur. The three poets recited their compositions on the various issues and also discussed the art of poetry writing. Their readings were followed by discussion from the enthusiastic audiences.

The day 1 of the seminar came to an end with an enthusiastic participation from both paper presenters and participants.

Day 2 , Session V: The theme of the session was Women’s Bodies and Space.  

The session was chaired by Saraswati Raju, JNU, New Delhi.The invited speaker of the session was K. Suneeta, University of Hyderabad. She presented a paper on “ Women’s Bodies become the Site of Urbanity: Reading Early Telegu Cinema”. Her presentation examined the portrayal of women in urban and rural set-up in select early Telegu films.The paper was supported by a few clippings from the select films included in the presentation. The invited talk was followed by the presentations by the following speakers:


o             Atiqa Kelsy (St. Xavier’s College, Jaipur) in her presentation “The Dynamics of Space , Gender, and Identity in The Shrek Trilogy” analysed the trilogy in the light of different kinds of spaces, identity and gender equations that could be taken in the understanding of the adult world.

o             Ritu Pareek (BITS, Jaipur Campus) made her presentation on “ The Creative Imagery World of Space and Time in Angela Carter’s The Kitchen Child”. The paper presented a general model of the structure of space within the narrative text.

o             Ramchandra R. Joshi ( Dr. A.P.J.Abdul Kalam Govt. College, Silvasa) presented a paper on “ A Space of One’s Own Narratives of Constructing and Re-constructing the Self in the Selected Short Stories of Panna Nayak”. The paper analysed Nayak’s characters that have created a space of their own seeking emotional urge to live a life on their own irrespective of socio-cultural taboos.

Day 2, Session VI was Panel Discussion on Gender Studies: Future Directions.

The panellists for the session were Prof. Jasbir Jain, Hony. Director , IRIS, Jaipur and Prof. Santosh Gupta Prof. and Chair Department of English, University of Rajasthan, Jaipur .The session was moderated by  Prof.Saraswati Raju, JNU, New Delhi who made the discussion quite interactive. The panellists discussed the gender issues with regard to socio-political and religious scenario. They argued upon the gender roles and patriarchal set up of the Indian society. The session ended with the notion that the questioning of mindset is important along with the deconstruction of gender stereotypes.

Day 2, Session VII: The theme of the session was Space: Individual and Community.

The session was chaired by Prof. Sumita Parmar, Allahbad University, Allahbad. The invited speakers for the session were Dr. Laxmi Kannan,creative writer, New Delhi and Dr. Mini Nanda, University of Raj., Jaipur. Dr.Laxmi Kannan in her presentation “ Carving a Niche for Herself: Creating a Space” focussed on the dynamics of man-woman inter-personal relations vis a vis space. Through her presentation she also shared experiences of the many roadblocks she have had encountered in the public space, as a bilingual writer and researcher. The next invited speaker ,Dr. Mini Nanda spoke on “Space as Community: Ananya Mukherjee’s Ardh-Satya”. She explored physical, social, mental and cosmic spaces in Ardh-Satya .She discussed that urban spaces are organised by structures of governance, bureaucracy, people and thought. The invited talks were followed by the presentations from the following speakers:

o             Rama Hirawat (Subodh Boys PG.College, Jaipur) made her presentation on “ Spatial Manifestation of Inter- and Intra-Gender Struggle for Power: Analysing Ambai’s A Kitchen in the Corner of the House. She explored kitchen as a symbol of subservience and a stereotypical ideal zone for women and extended its spatial reclaiming by exploring how it is a site for dual struggle for power i.e both between the genders and within the gender.

o             Chanda Asani ( The IIS University, Jaipur ) in her paper “ Multifaceted Rajasthan”  argued upon the question of space based on her travel experiences of some of the major cities of Rajasthan.

This session ended with the announcement of lunch break which was followed by three parallel sessions(A,B and C) for students’ presentations.

Day 2, Session VIII A : The theme of the session was Gender, Body and Space. The session was  chaired by Dr. Rani Rathore, The IIS University, Jaipur. The presentations were made by the following speakers:

o             Ambika Sharma ( Panjab University, Chandigarh ) presented a paper on “Walking Out and Chalking Out Our Space in Our Place: Negotiation, Identification and Reproduction of Our Bodies”.The paper critically examined the gendered urban spaces that are shaped by capitalist patriarchal strands.

o             Chetali Shekhawat (The IIS University, Jaipur ) made her presentation on “Duvidha Dilemma of a Feminine Mind”. The paper discussed the oppressed identity and desires of a woman in the hidden spaces.

o             Kanika Gandhi (Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi )  presented a paper on “Gendered Political Spaces in Pakistan: Benazir Bhutto and Fatima Bhutoo”.The paper  traced the representations of Pakistani society, politics, culture and gender in the texts taken up for the presentation.

o             Megha Sharma ( The IIS University, Jaipur ) made her presentation on “The Spatiality of Gender and Sextuality: The Urban Context. The paper explored the complexities of space in relation to gender.

o             Reema Raveendran Nair’s (M.G. University, Kerala ) presentation was on “Women and the Gothic City: Dialogue between Space, Silence and Shame”.The paper discussed the concept of space in the works of social thinkers like Michel Foucault, Henri Lefebvre,etc.

o             Sarani Roy (Visva – Bharti University, West Bengal) presented paper on     “ Gedering Space and Spacing Gender: Plurality of Meanings in Piku and Ganharvi”. The presentation explored the luminal possibilities that exist outside the dominant discourses of the time and envision an alternative gendered space through comparative study.

o             Smita Chandela (University of Rajasthan , Jaipur ) made her presentation on “ Exploring the Idea of Gender Liberation through Bol”.The paper explored the conflict between mind and convention through the characters from the respective text.

 Day 2, Session VIII B: The theme of the session was Gender and Space in Fiction .The chair person of the session was Dr. Sucharita Sharma , The IIS University, Jaipur. The presentations were made by the following speakers:

o             Anju Verma (The IIS University, Jaipur) presented her paper on “The Dynamics of Relationship between Gender, Space and Generation in the Novels of R.K. Narayan”. The presentation illustrated how gender relationships and gendered urban spaces are handled by the novelist.

o             Anushree Thareja (University of Rajasthan, Jaipur)   made her presentation on “ The Way Inclined: A Reading of Shyam Selvadurai’s Funny Boy and Swimming in the Monsoon Sea”.The paper portrayed how gendered social spaces inhibit the personal growth of individuals.

o             Garima Goyal’s  (Panjab University, Chandigarh) presentation was on “Conceptualising Spaces, Constructing Gender: Spatial Dimensions of Human Geography in The Better Man”. The paper discussed the correlation of the first and second space that represent, develop and resolve gender troubles and man –woman relationship in Kerala society.

o             Hemant Vijay (University of Rajasthan, Jaipur) presented a paper on            “ Vocalising the Concerns of I’ want My Ayah’: A Gynocentric Critique of Bapsi Sidhwa’s Ice Candy Man”.The paper tried to vocalise the nature of the subjection of women in postcolonial South Asia, a space marked by a history of gender-based violence or exploitation, sexual stereotyping and gender roles.

o             Priyanka Sharma  ( Kanoria PG Mahila Mahavidyalaya, Jaipur ) made her presentation on “ Gender Dilemma : Negotiating Spaces in Doris Lessing’s The Summer Before the Dark and Elif Shafak’s The Forty Rules of Love”.The presentation discussed urban space as a major aspect in shaping the gender construction.

o             Sakshi Sundaram (G.G.S.I.P.U, Dwarka) presented her paper on “Negotiating the Spatial Boundaries: A Comparative Study of Amrita Pritam’s Ek Thi Anita and Krishna Sobti’s Mitro Marjani”.The paper addressed the core problems of female identity with regard to patriarchal concerns.

o             Shivani Arora ( The IIS University , Jaipur) made her presentation on “ The Ensared Woman amidst Spaces: A Gendered Perspective in John Fowles’ The French Lieutenant’s Woman”.The paper explored  the positioning of women through the dark or hidden spaces.

o             Swati Charan ( The IIS University, Jaipur) presented her paper on “Domestic Spaces in Jane Austen’s Novels”.The paper examined human relationships in limited domestic spaces .


Day 2, Session VIII C: The theme of the Session was Gender and Space in Women’s Writing. The session was chaired by Dr. Anita Hada Sangwan, The IIS University, Jaipur. The presentations were made by the following speakers:

o             Ankita Choudhary ( The IIS University, Jaipur ) presented her paper on “Portrayal of Woman in Literature”. The paper discussed the construction of gender roles through literature written in different times.

o             Chirantana Kumari ( The IIS University, Jaipur) made her presentation on “Gendered Spaces in the Joint Family of Nineteenth Century Bengal”.The paper discussed the works of Tagore in order to explore women space in the  joint family structure.

o             Guni Vats (University of Lucknow, Lucknow ) presented the paper entitled “Re-defining Peripheries: Urbanization and Prostitution in Indian Literature”.The paper discussed the concept of space in urban set-up and how prostitution flourished with urbanization.

o             Mudita Choudhary (The IIS University, Jaipur ) presented her paper on “The Gender Construct: Re-defining Spaces through Memory in Shashi Deshpande’s That Long Silence”.The paper examined the role of memory and explored the complex man -woman relationship and the subversion of motherhood, feminity, and masculinity towards the exploration of self.

o             Nicy Pancholi (Mithibai College, Mumbai ) made a presentation on “ Re-thinking the Shrunken Boundaries of the Gendered Spaces in Shashi Deshpande’s That Long Silence”.The paper discussed that ‘space’ in general has no meaning unless and until male and female  come together to give meaning to it.

o             Rakhi Gupta (The IIS University, Jaipur ) presented her paper on “Conceptualization of Gender and Space within Feminist Research: With Study of The Yellow Wallpaper and The Story of an Hour”.The paper explored the various issues related to women’s identity and her individual space.

o             Rashmi Gurjar (The IIS University, Jaipur) made her presentation on “A Space Within: Conflicting Nature of the World of Widows”.The paper examined the gendered aspect of the holy city of Benaras with regard to the interior spaces of  widows.

o             Richa Rathore and Shivangi Rathore ( The IIS Unversity, Jaipur) made a joint presentation on “ Space and Transgender Identity: A Study of Selected Poems by Kamala Das and Satish Verma”.The paper discussed the problematic identity of  the transgenders.

o             Shaivya Dutta (The IIS University, Jaipur) presented her paper on “Masculinity and Indian Households”.The paper explored the concepts of masculinity in Indian context, along with patriarchy, being its close companion.

o             Surbhi Vijay Vargeeya (University of Rajasthan, Jaipur ) made her presentation on “ Withdrawal , the Power to Create Individual Space: Findings from Anita Desai’s Fire on the Mountain”.The  paper explored how the incessant clamorous strivings of the fairer sex find her individual space to attain psychological comfort turn futile and ultimately transform into a sense of withdrawal and exile.

The three parallel sessions were over and were followed by valediction ceremony. Prof. Suneetha Rani , University of Hyderabad  shared her experiences of the seminar . Richa Shukla, research scholar, JNU, New Delhi  gave her feedback and generously thanked the organizers.

In the valedictory session, prizes for the best paper presentations in the student category were also announced. The award winners from the three parallel sessions were: Kanika Gandhi    ( Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi ), Sarani Roy (Visva Bharti University, West Bengal ), Guni Vats(University of Lucknow, Lucknow), Garima Goyal (Panjab University, Chandigarh), Shivani Arora ( The IIS University, Jaipur) and Shaivya Dutta ( The IIS University, Jaipur) .  The seminar concluded with a vote of thanks by the Seminar Convenor Dr. Rani Rathore.