Sītā and Rādhā, Role Models for Women?
The introduction sets up the basic question of the book: when are goddesses as role models potentially empowering or oppressive for women? It situates this question within contemporary feminist debates. It contrasts the role models of Sita and Radha and counters a monolithic understanding of these goddesses, arguing for a historically nuanced study of how their stories change over time as told in classical Sanskrit sources, the bhakti or devotional tradition, and the popular culture frameworks of television series and movies. Three hypotheses will be tested. First, are bhakti texts in privileging love above duty and celebrating women's subjectivity liberating for women? Second, does the modernity of the medium of television and film result in a more progressive view? Finally, how is the increasing influence of Hindutva in the public sphere reflected on screen? The introduction establishes the methodology of “siting” Sita and Radha, introduces the sources used and outlines the overall organization.
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