Introduction: Gender, Performance, and Autobiography in South Asia
Anshu Malhotra, Siobhan Lambert-Hurley, 2015. "Introduction: Gender, Performance, and Autobiography in South Asia", Speaking of the Self: Gender, Performance, and Autobiography in South Asia, Anshu Malhotra, Siobhan Lambert-Hurley
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This chapter examines the meanings of the term autobiography in different societies. Autobiography is used here for the varied ways in which a self is represented, fashioned, and articulated in South Asian cultures that include a range of autobiographical materials. While probing gendered autobiographical imaginings, it focuses on women’s oeuvre, showing how the concept of relational selves seems more appropriate than the idea of autonomous sovereign selves. It asserts that women through different times spoke for themselves, though this could come through in coded or allegorical expression or in more individualistic, self-reflexive ways. It delineates the performative nature of life-story narratives, whether served in poetic, novelistic, fictional, or monumental mode. It investigates the nature of memory and its selective use, intrinsically a part of autobiographical practice, assessing it as a genre of design, fabrication, and performance. The complex relation of self-representation to truth claims is also explored.