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Brooms of doom: Notes on domestic bodies gendered to death in Mughal-e-Azam, fire, and earth

Gairola, R.K.ORCID: 0000-0002-1826-6339 (2018) Brooms of doom: Notes on domestic bodies gendered to death in Mughal-e-Azam, fire, and earth. South Asian Review, 39 (3-4). pp. 283-297.

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This essay explores how current trends of xenophobic and class-based violence target women of color in a throwback to postcolonial studies. Representational discourses produce these subjects as gendered bodies whose ultimate difference lies in a postcolonial biology of difference that opens them to death. In particular, I unravel the tight braid of domesticity “at home” with the necropolitical prerogative of patriarchal hegemons in three key Hindi films: K. Asif’s Mughal-e-Azam and Deepa Mehta’s Fire and Earth. I begin by recalling various theories of representation of women of color in relation to the othering of gendered and racialized bodies, and then link them to regimes of gender that are allegorized by the “brooms” of domesticity. I focus on the women protagonists, and demonstrate that these three films, with respect to their varying historical periods, deposit gendered domesticity as the occasion and justification for women protagonists to encounter obliteration – a sweeping act that renders them “brooms of doom.” In conclusion, I return to the present context to frame my readings of these “brooms of doom” that sweep through these films into a history of the present that continues to render precarious the lives of women of color.

Item Type: Journal Article
Publisher: South Asian Literary Association
Copyright: 2019 South Asian Literary Association
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