International Journal of

Arts , Humanities & Social Science

ISSN 2693-2547 (Print) , ISSN 2693-2555 (Online)
Somaesthetics in Rajasthan: The Female Body Between Tradition And Modernity

 

Abstract

 

Caught between tradition and modernity, India has increasingly taken women and their status into account since the 1970’s. That raises the question of the conditions of Indian women empowerment. How are Indian women in Rajasthan part of a movement going on for a long time but still debated today – feminism and the affirmation of women’s political power in the broad sense (affirmation of their identity, their legitimacy within the public space and their will to assert themselves as equal to men in a society which is still strongly influenced by patriarchal norms)?

Following interviews and observations in the region, the somatic style appears to be the favourite medium through which women assert their political and social role and presence in the public space of Rajasthan. The ritual preparation of the body takes place in a singular temporality, as if the woman had to stop in time so as to observe herself and turn her body into a tool aimed at assertiveness and empowerment. So, is the consciousness of the body and of its potentialities the base of the process of empowerment? And does this process contribute to create a contradictory heterotopia – in Foucaldian terms – i.e. the specific spatiality, temporality and rhythm of somaesthetics as it unfolds in order to proclaim the power of women? We show how women, growing aware of the power their bodies contain, can now invest the public space and the political sphere in a country traditionally governed by men.