"Undressing political icons: Europe & India compared" talk by Arundhati Virmani & Jean Boutier at The Attic, CP - 6:30 pm on 19th August 09

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Time : 6:30 pm

Entry : Free

Event Details : “Undressing political icons: Europe and India compared.” A talk by Dr. Arundhati Virmani & Prof. Jean Boutier.
In Europe, political icons (Marianne or EuropA) have often been represented as partially undressed women, whereas in India, Bharat Mata since the beginning has been a respectably draped woman. Could this contrast be part of the stereotypical divide between East and West? A closer examination of some cases reveals this opposition to be meaningless. In Europe, the female icons of the French Revolution rejected the strict morals of the Catholic and Protestant counter-Reformation and mobilised often nude or partially dressed aesthetic models drawn from Greek antiquity and the Italian renaissance. India too has an equally ancient tradition of nude goddesses. What do recent affairs like Hussain’s Nude Bharatmata in India or the Burkha in France reveal? What does a long term comparative approach to the changing language of political icons contribute in a better understanding of the current debates?


Dr. Arundhati Virmani was Reader in History at Delhi University until 1992, when she moved to France. Today she teaches at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales Marseille. Her publications include an essay in Past and Present, as well as two books: ‘India 1900–1947. Un Britannique au cœur du Raj’ (Paris, Autrement, 2002), and ‘Inde. Une Puissance en mutation’. Her latest book, ‘A National Flag for India. Rituals, Nationalism and the Politics of Sentiment’ was published by Permanent Black last year.

Jean Boutier is a Professor of European History at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales. Former fellow of the Ecole Francaise de Rome and the European University Institute in Florence he has worked on a comparative history of European societies in the early modern period. His focus is on the cultural patterns of European aristocracies. His recent works include: ‘Un tour de France royal 156-1567’ ‘Passe Recompose’’ Les Plans de Paris des origines a 1800’, ‘Florence et la Toscane, X1Ve-X1X siecles’, ‘Les dynamique d’un Etat Italien’, Les mileux intellectuals Italiens, Naples, Rome, Florence, 17e-18e siecles’. He is currently a Fellow of the Institute of Advanced Studies in JNU.

Place : The Attic, 36, Regal building, Parliament Street, Next to 'The Shop', Connaught Place, New Delhi-110001
Nearest Delhi Metro Rail Station : Walking Distance from Rajiv Chowk Metro Station which Comes Under Line 3 ( Yamuna - Barakhamba Road - Dwarka ) & Line 2 ( Jahangirpuri - Vishwa Vidyalaya - Central Sectt. )
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