York professor receives prestigious Indian literary prize

photo of Himani BannerjiHimani Bannerji (right), a sociology professor in York’s Faculty of Arts, has been awarded the 2005 Rabindra Memorial Prize for her book Inventing Subjects: Studies in Hegemony, Patriarchy and Colonialism (Anthem Press, 2002).

Inventing Subjects is a collection of essays written from a Marxist-feminist perspective. The essays speak of the different ways in which social subjects and their agencies have been constructed and represented in the context of the development of colonial hegemony and socio-cultural formations in India. Four of the essays focus on the constructive proposals for social change. The remaining two essays consider the invention or construction of India as an ideological category for ruling, which seeks to impose on it a colonially-ascribed identity.

The Rabindra Memorial Prize was created to celebrate the memory of Rabindranath Tagore, the first Indian Nobel laureate. It is awarded each year in India. Bannerji’s work was selected in the category recognizing books in a language other than Bengali that focus on Bengali society and culture. The highest literary award, the Rabindra Memorial Prize is conferred by the government of West Bengal state. It was created in 1950, nine years after the death of Tagore.

Bannerji’s research interests lie in the areas of Marxist, feminist and anti-racist theories. Her special interests include reading colonial discourse through Marx’s concept of ideology, and putting together a reflexive analysis of gender, race and class. Other books co-authored and edited by Bannerji include: Unsettling Relations: The University as a Site for Feminist Struggle (1992); Returning the Gaze (1993); Thinking Through: Essays in Marxism, Feminism and Anti-Racism (1995); and a book of essays on culture and politics, The Writing on the Wall (2001).