21st April 2016: Cinema, Women, Drugs and Nationalism in India by Sonia Soans
Come along to the Castle Hotel in Manchester at 7pm for some food, some drinks and to listen to Sonia’s talk….
Title of talk:
Cinema, Women, Drugs and Nationalism in India
Bullet points of what you would like to talk about:
Cinema is shaped by tropes that reflect a nation’s preoccupations it is to be read as a code.
Alcohol and drug addiction is shaped by economic, political, historical and social factors. The clinical aspects of a mental health condition are informed by these factors.
Indian nationalism informs the way we imagine the past and arbitrarily attribute boundaries on the present.
The intersection of these three issues produces cinematic tropes that are deeply problematic and the effects of which are not contained in a cinema alone but spills onto the streets.
A few paragraphs on your subject:
Addiction is seen as an un Indian issue. This has led to a lack of understanding and lack of treatment facilities. Added to that is the stigma women addicts face as they are seen as crossing an unwritten social norm and deviating from their culture. My work in a rehabilitation clinic exposed me to the non-clinical side of addiction which is often more powerful than diagnostic categories. Public opinion on the issue ranges from banning alcohol, tobacco and drugs. However this is not a new idea part of the nationalist movement of the nineteenth and twentieth century involved creating Indian and western boundaries. Alcohol acquired a western identity. Temperance gained an Indian identity with calls for prohibition. Women were similarly policed their identity being tied to the home and as reproducers of the nation. Women drinking alcohol or using drugs was therefore seen as anti-national.
Cinema in India is a powerful medium influencing behaviour. Its images are carefully constructed. Women in Indian cinema have stereotypical roles. Alcohol and drug consumption is presented in an overly sexualised manner with women characters often dying or being raped. These portrayals would be harmless if they did not influence behaviour.
The culture that surrounds cinema in India is one of misogyny it is enacted through harassing women outside cinema halls, or through singing lewd songs to intimidate women in public space. In recent years the growth of right wing vigilante groups has led to attacks on women. The language on screen closely imitated by those who inflict such violence on women.
A few paragraphs about you:
Sonia Soans is a PhD researcher based in Manchester her work examines the intersections between gender, mental illness and Indian nationalism. Critical of practises in and erasure in mainstream Psychology her work looks at the missing histories in the discipline.
What free internet knowledge resources would you recommend to others if they wish to explore your chosen theme further?
What are your weblinks?
Twitter – @PSYfem
Public Email – @[email protected]