Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay ( 1903 – 1988 ) is finally being remembered with the attention and repect she deserves,after thirty years of being consigned to the edge of memory, far from the cognizance of academics, patriotic fighters for India’s freedom and against Western Imperialism,those engaged in gender studies, politicians, and even the generations of craftsmen and women of India for who she was a crucial lifeline after India attained Independence from the British. Some die-hard craft lovers and surviving colleagues hold on tenaciously to her widely distributed legacy but that has hardly been enough. For too long we have adopted the tendency to compartmentalize public activists, forgetting those who simultaneously contributed to a variety of fields, and stood on a wide range of platforms. Women in public life are particularly prone to this. In a world polluted bypatriarchal mindsets, it minimizes and marginalizes them even more. In a world of specialists, a special woman who excels in many activities is lost between the divisions. Kamaladevi was one such person. Additionally, she often became a victim of the ‘darbar’ system that operated in those days under Indira Gandhi when ‘czarinas’ ruled the cultural field and ‘favourites’ held sway. In a poignant meeting with Kamaladevi in Bangalore, some months before she passed away, she sat sadly in the fading evening light, sharing with this writer her regret that all she had built up was being destroyed around her. She should not have felt that sad.
Editors Ellen Carol Dubois and Vinay Lal, both Professors at UCLA,have pu...
freedom, kamaladevi, reviews
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