The wretched of the nation
© 2017 Third Text. In 2010, the author published a book titled The Goddess and the Nation: Mapping Mother India (Duke University Press) in which she demonstrated how the deified body of Mother India and the geo-body of India – as iconised by the outline map – are put to work over the course of the long twentieth century by India's ‘barefoot cartographers’ to transform the nation-space into a sacred pastoral landscape worth living and dying for. In this article, Ramaswamy takes up for consideration ten contrary watercolors also featuring the map of India that make up Atul Dodiya’s series Tearscape (2001), Dodiya lives and works in Mumbai. Produced at the beginning of a new century, these works evacuate the glorious goddess from her occupation of the map of India, and populate it instead with abject figures that disenchant, even desecrate, the national geo-body. What is dared in transforming thus the map of the nation from a repository of pastoral plenitude into the dystopian address of the (female) abject? And to what end does Dodiya undertake such a risky maneuver, fifty years after the nation's geo-body was created out of the conflagration that was the Partition of India?.
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