The Female Body as a Territory for Assault: Mahashweta Devi’s Dopdi

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Breast Stories, written by Mahasweta Devi, translated into English by Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, the doyenne of postcolonial analysis, bring to light the women protagonists in a different light by focusing on contemporary questions of politics, gender and class.
Like most of her stories, “Draupadi” is set among the tribals in Bengal. The hard life stories of the tribals who are oppressed by the moneylenders and landlords, condescended to by the government, aided in uselessly inappropriate ways by charity groups and well-meaning city people, are described in her distinctively matter-of-fact style. Mahasweta Devi’s Draupadi, is a rebel, hunted down by the government in their attempt to subjugate the revolutionary groups. The government uses all forces available to them, including kidnapping, murder, and rape, and any tribal deaths in custody are invariably reported as “accidents”. The story ends with a magnificent final scene in which Dopdi faces her abusers, naked and bloody, but fiercely strong.
We read the resistance shown by such women as attachment to lands that they inhabit, and their refusal to be dis-possessed, displaced, disinherited, etc. We can understand the manner in which "tribals' might relate to the land they labor on, and whether "tribal" women in particular display specific structures of attachment by a close reading of this story in the background of Indian epic the Mahabharata.
This paper would critique the life of the tribal Dopdi and the mythic Draupadi of the Mahabharata as both seem to have struggled for their legitimate rights, snatched by the establishment, throughout their life.


Keywords: Feminism, Subaltern, Tribals, Epic, Myths, Gender, Resistance
Stream: Literature, Literary Studies
Presentation Type: 30 minute Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Dr. Saroj Thakur

Assistant Professor, Department of Applied Science and Humanities, National Institute of Technology, Hamirpur
Hamirpur, Himachal Pradesh, India


Aushima Thakur

Fulbright  FLTA
Iowa, Iowa, USA


Ref: H10P0010