The departments of History, Political Science and Philosophy of Maulana Azad College, Kolkata, in collaboration with the Women’s Studies Centre, Rabindra Bharati University, Kolkata, had been perceiving the necessity of organizing a seminar on feminist studies for sometime. The seminar was designed to redefine gender in conformity with contemporary feminist theories. Feminist studies reveal that traditional construction of gender in natural and social sciences, as well as in Philosophy, is predominantly political, that is determined by asymmetrical power relations. It was felt that a feminist negotiation with the patriarchal, phallocentric, and sometimes sexist presumptions informing these disciplines might ensue in a less oppressive and exclusionary pattern of thought. A National Seminar entitled ‘Visibility/Invisibility:An Enquiry into the Conditions of Women in India”, held on 21st and 22nd February, 2011 at Maulana Azad College, was precipitated by a concern towards promotion of fairness and justice in dominant discursive practices. This post-seminar volume is inspired by the same concern.Sex/gender is not an isolated category. It is constructed by other socio-cultural categories like race, class, culture, ethnicity, sexuality, age and soon. Participation of experts in diverse social sciences like History and
Political Science was expected to highlight this intersectional interpretation
of gender. Papers in Philosophy were also invited. The alignment between
Philosophy and theory-formation is perhaps the most intimate. A seminar on
feminist studies would not have been complete without a philosophical,
metatheoretical dimension of dialogue.
The choice of the Indian perspective is not a symptom of glorification
or universalization of the Indian tradition. The choice is a reflection of the
need to contain dialogue within a reasonable, systematic boundary. Indian
feminist theory may also be interpreted as representative of colonial, post
colonial and in general marginalized feminist standpoints against a back-
ground of a dominant, monolithic white feminism.The organizers of the seminar thank the University Grants Commission
is assistance in the execution of the programme and for providing the
resource for the publication of this volume.