Making Maha(n)pashtra [A Great Nation]: Marathi Morality and Sexual Modernity, 1945–65

Sunday, January 5, 2020: 9:50 AM
Gramercy East (New York Hilton)
Shailaja D. Paik, University of Cincinnati
Along with uniting for and engaging in the overt politics of Samyukta Maharashtra Movement (United Maharashtra Movement in Western India of the 1950-60s), many women and men equally engaged in and pursued the interlocking discourse of constructing their own regional identity, sexual modernity, morality, civility, and legitimacy. What was the language and paradigms that Marathi elites used in their articulation of what it meant to be Marathi, scientific, progressive, scientific, rational, and modern? Why was it so significant? In order to prove that they were now fit to govern themselves in independent India and Maharashtra, Maharashtrians articulated the vernacular political discourse of shuddha (pure, sanitized), naitik (moral), samajik (social), laingik (sexual), and sanskrutik (cultural) contours of what it meant to be a new brand of shilvan (genuine, of good disposition) Marathi manusa. In so doing, they once again attacked ashlilta (vulgarity) and critically carved out their moral modernity in order to be legitimate Marathi. Drawing upon hitherto unexplored Marathi sources, including film magazines my paper examines middle-class Maharashtrian’s wide range of attitudes, practices, social, and sexual anxieties regarding the appropriate boundaries of decency, vulgarity, sexuality, and conjugality, as they sought to carve out their Maha-rashtra (great nation).
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