JALUKBARI, Nov 9 - The Department of English, Gauhati University organised the 14th Anita Baruah Sarma Memorial Lecture on “The Elusive centre: Writing and Re-writing the Nation” today at the Phanidhar Dutta Seminar Hall of Gauhati University.
Prominent Indian feminist writer and publisher Dr Urvashi Butalia who delivered the memorial lecture, drew from her decades of experience as a publisher and avid reader of feminist works and stressed the need to recover the repressed voices of marginalised women throughout history in order to dismantle the patriarchal hierarchy which has always dominated the ideological mainstream and defined what India’s national literature is.
Dr Butalia quoted several stories of women from the fringes as examples of subaltern resistance to not only the more visible issues of religion, class, caste, etc., but also the lesser addressed linguistic and regional marginalisation. She shared with the audience her yet utopian vision of reimagining the ‘national’ as the local where all literary voices find a space and do not go unheard.
Arupa Kalita Patangia, novelist and short story writer known for her fiction writing in Assamese, who was present as the guest of honour, in her speech said, “Women writing is a voice of silent majority within the patriarchal social structure. After crossing a long evolutionary process, women writing have attained a special stature. Women writing is a political phenomenon, women writing is bound to take political character today, particularly in India.” She said woman writers must deal with the socio-political forces that are trying to pull women back to the days of ‘Manu’. Women writing are always a protest against negative forces. On the other hand, market has continuously questioned the woman writers. A market force requires woman writers into submission. She went to add that challenges would be there. “It’s not a free road, we have to go and rewrite the history,” she said. She further appealed to all woman writers to respond to the call of historical responsibility.
Vice Chancellor of Gauhati University Prof PJ Handique who was present as the chief guest, in his speech tried to compare between nation writing and molecular biology. He said, “Nation building was once probably mutations, but now we have to go for the transformation, which means that mechanism will be in our control. We have to develop devices and strategies to make society as a whole, nation as a whole comfortable and progressive.” He urged social scientists to identify strategies, effective mechanisms and procedures for social development and overall national development.
The lecture is organised annually by the Department of English, Gauhati University in collaboration with the Dr Anita Baruah Sarma College of Education. The annual lecture is organised in memory of Anita Baruah Sarma who was a teacher in the Department of English, GU. The lecture was attended by officials of Gauhati University, teachers, students and a host of other dignitaries.
On the occasion Diptiman Gautam, a student of the Department of English was declared ‘Student of the year 2019’ and was awarded a cash reward of Rs 5,000.