Event Title

Renegotiating a Beheading: Literary Opposition to Varna Hierarchy in Shambuka’s Story

Presenter Information

Thomas Nunan, Oberlin College

Location

Science Center, A255

Document Type

Presentation

Start Date

4-26-2013 4:00 PM

End Date

4-26-2013 5:00 PM

Abstract

The Ramayana's Shambuka story is a controversial incident that has served as the basis for the negotiation and renegotiation of social power structures in India for thousands of years. Because the episode is fundamentally about India's system of caste hierarchy, or varna, any retelling will by its very nature engage in a formulation of relation between different social identities and locations. Close reading of these retellings reveals the ways in which the adaptations and appropriations of each version create new literary meaning that provide insight into varna hierarchy as a normative body of social control. Despite the Shambuka incident's hegemonic history, transgressive participation in this narrative tradition constitutes a form of literary opposition to the established order. By breaking the tradition's reiteration of normative ideologies, these retellings open space for new conceptions of power and varna relations.

Notes

Session III, Panel 14: Rewrites, Replays, and Remixes: Reflections on Shakespeare, The Ramayana, Music Techonology, and Chile
Moderator: Jeff Pence, Associate Professor of Cinema Studies and English

Link to full text thesis at OhioLINK ETD Center:
http://rave.ohiolink.edu/etdc/view?acc_num=oberlin1368363299

Major

Religion

Advisor(s)

Paula Richman, Religion

Project Mentor(s)

Paula Richman, Religion

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Apr 26th, 4:00 PM Apr 26th, 5:00 PM

Renegotiating a Beheading: Literary Opposition to Varna Hierarchy in Shambuka’s Story

Science Center, A255

The Ramayana's Shambuka story is a controversial incident that has served as the basis for the negotiation and renegotiation of social power structures in India for thousands of years. Because the episode is fundamentally about India's system of caste hierarchy, or varna, any retelling will by its very nature engage in a formulation of relation between different social identities and locations. Close reading of these retellings reveals the ways in which the adaptations and appropriations of each version create new literary meaning that provide insight into varna hierarchy as a normative body of social control. Despite the Shambuka incident's hegemonic history, transgressive participation in this narrative tradition constitutes a form of literary opposition to the established order. By breaking the tradition's reiteration of normative ideologies, these retellings open space for new conceptions of power and varna relations.