Singularity and Uncertainty

Counter-Ethics of Gender and Sexuality in an Indian Dream Analysis

in The Cambridge Journal of Anthropology
View More View Less
  • 1 Tufts University sarah.pinto@tufts.edu
Restricted access

Abstract

On the cusp of India’s Independence, a young woman in Punjab met with a psychiatrist for a conceptual experiment – the development of a ‘more objective’ and ‘Oriental’ theory of dream analysis. Known to us only as Mrs A., not only did she offer a ‘daydream’ to analyst Dev Satya Nand, she presented an intimate account of mid-twentieth-century upper-class Indian marriage, sexuality and womanhood. In her portrayal of the stakes of kinship, she posed an alternate vision – an ethic of singularity and uncertainty formed out of, but departing from, concepts of security and emplacement. This article explores Mrs A.’s account, using the work of twenty-first-century artist Shahzia Sikander to theorize her vision of possibility, and developing the concept of a counter-ethic – a formulation that presses against the parameters of an overarching ethic, occupying its conceptual and social infrastructure, but nurturing a new vision at the points it cannot be sustained.

Contributor Notes

Sarah Pinto is Professor of Anthropology at Tufts University, and author of Where There Is No Midwife: Birth and Loss in Rural India (Berghahn Books, 2008) and Daughters of Parvati: Women and Madness in Contemporary India (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014).

  • Cohen, L. 2005. ‘The Kothi Wars: AIDS Cosmopolitanism and the Morality of Classification’. In V. Adams and S.L. Pigg (eds), Sex in Development. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 269303.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Dave, N. 2012. Queer Activism in India: A Story in the Anthropology of Ethics. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

  • Dumont, L. 1970. Homo Hierarchicus: The Caste System and Its Implications, trans. M. Sainsbury, L. Dumont and B. Gulati. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Foucault, M. 1994. ‘On the Genealogy of Ethics: An Overview of a Work in Progress’. In P. Rabinow (ed.), Ethics: Subjectivity and Truth. New York: The New Press, 253280.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hatcher, B. 2013. ‘The Shakuntala Paradigm: Vidyasagar, Widow Marriage, and the Morality of Recognition’. The Journal of Hindu Studies 6 (3): 384385.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Gupta, A. and S. Sikander. 2012. ‘Linda Pace Foundation: A Conversation with Shahzia Sikander’. http://www.lindapacefoundation.org/Shahzia-Sikander-interview.php (accessed 4 September 2017).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Jain, S., P. Murthy and A. Sarin. 2015. ‘The Story of Satyanand’. Indian Journal of Psychiatry 57 (4): 419422.

  • Jensen, C. and A. Morita. 2017. ‘Infrastructures as Ontological Experiments’. Ethnos 87 (4): 112.

  • Marriott, M. and R. Inden. 1977. ‘Toward an Ethnosociology of South Asian Caste Systems’. In K. David (ed.), The New Wind: Changing Identities in South Asia. The Hague: Mouton Publishers, 227238.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Miller, B. 1984. ‘Kālidāsa’s World and His Plays’. In B. Miller (ed.), Theater of Memory: The Plays of Kālidāsa. New York: Columbia University Press, 341.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Nandy, A. 1983. The Intimate Enemy: Loss and Recovery of Self under Colonialism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Narayan, U. 1997. Dislocating Cultures: Identities, Traditions and Third-World Feminism. New York: Routledge.

  • Oldenburg, V. 1990. ‘Lifestyle as Resistance: The Case of the Courtesans of Lucknow, India’. Feminist Studies 16 (2): 259287.

  • Oldenburg, V. 2002. Dowry Murder: Imperial Origins of a Cultural Crime. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Phadke, S., S. Khan and S. Ranade. 2011. Why Loiter? Women and Risk on Mumbai Streets. Delhi: Penguin.

  • Satya Nand, D. [1946?] An Objective Method of Dream Interpretation, Derived from Researches in the Oriental Reminiscence State. Lahore, n.p.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Satya Nand, D. 1972. Dynamic Psychology of the Gita of Hinduism. Delhi: Oxford and IBH Pub. Co.

  • Sikander, S. Undated. ‘Artist Statement’. Signs, virtual issue, ‘Visibility and Visuality: Reframing Gender in the Middle East, North Africa, and Their Diasporas’. http://signsjournal.org/features/virtual-issues/visibility-and-visuality/ (accessed 30 June 2016).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Sikander, S. 2003. SpiNN. Digital animation with sound, 6 min 38 sec. Music by David Abir.

  • Sikander, S. 2013. Parallax. Sharjah Biennial 11, 3-channel HD digital animation with 5.1 surround sound, 15 min 26 sec. Music by Du Yun.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Sikander, S. 2015. Gopi Contagion. Digital animation, Times Square, New York.

  • Sikander, S. and H. Bhabha. 1998. ‘Chillava Klatch: Shahzia Sikander Interviewed by Homi Bhabha’. In Shahzia Sikander: The Renaissance Society, 8 March–19 April 1998 (catalogue). Chicago, IL: University of Chicago.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Spivak, G. 1995. ‘Translator’s Preface’. In Mahasweta Devi, Imaginary Maps: Three Stories, trans. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak. New York: Routledge, xxiiixxx.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Tagore, R. 1920. ‘Sakuntala, Its Inner Meaning’. In Sakuntala, by Kalidasa. Prepared for the English Stage by Kedar Nath Gupta. London: MacMillan and Co., xiiixxix.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Trawick, M. 1992. Notes on Love in a Tamil Family. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

  • Wilson, A. 2016. ‘The Infrastructure of Intimacy’. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 41 (2): 247280.

Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 22 22 3
Full Text Views 14 14 2
PDF Downloads 12 12 2