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Phantasms of Masculinity in Qissa: The Tale of a Lonely Ghost

Date and Time: 
Wednesday, June 5, 2019. 05:30 PM - 07:00 PM
Meeting Location: 
Humanities Center
Workshop: 
Feminist/Queer Colloquium
Meeting Description: 

The film Qissa (Anup Singh, 2013) narrates the story of the family of Umber Singh, a Sikh patriarch dislocated during the India-Pakistan Partition in 1947. Possessed by his desire for a son, Umber imposes a regime of masculinity upon his fourth daughter, Kanwar, who is turned into a man through the signifying practices of the paternal economy, her fragile frame bearing the burden of divided nations. As male ghosts “possess” female bodies and vice versa, the increasingly magic-realist narrative is focalized through Kanwar’s transgender gaze, his wife Neeli’s female gaze, and Umber’s ghost’s spectral gaze. While gender is figured as a social apparition that haunts and possesses the body, Kanwar’s transgender gaze enables new forms of visibility and embodiment that will prevent the reconstitution of patriarchal, immigrant masculinity. Through meandering, exploratory mobilities and destabilizing hauntings, this transnational co-production meditates on border crossings between bodies, narrative forms, and nations.

Usha Iyer, assistant professor in the Department of Art & Art History at Stanford University, will speak on the film. Her forthcoming book, The Dancing Heroine: Choreographing Performance in Popular Hindi Cinema (Oxford University Press), examines the role of dance in the construction of female stardom in Hindi cinema from the 1930s to the 1990s. More broadly, her research interests lie at the intersection of cinema, performance, and gender studies with a specific focus on stardom, body cultures, spectatorial desire and engagement, and the political economy of transnational media.

There will also will be a screening the film the day before, Tuesday June 4th, at 4:45pm in McMurtry, 115.

Workshops Calendar

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