Weaving history, myth, and current political realities, these three stories by noted Bengali writer Mahasweta Devi explore troubling motifs in contemporary Indian life through the figures and narratives of the indigenous tribes in India. Both delicate and violent, Devi's stories map the experiences of the "tribals" and tribal life under decolonization. Whether rendering themes of catastrophic ecological loss, the connections between local elites and international capitalism, or the role of gender in manifesting resistance in "The Hunt" and "Douloti the Bountiful," or the deftly wrought allegory of tribal agony in "Pterodactyl, Pirtha, and Puran Sahay," Ms. Devi always in turn links the specific fate of tribals in India to that of marginalized peoples everywhere.
Devi's texts are examined and amplified by Gayatri Spivak. Her essays explode the scope and impact of these stories, connecting the necessary "power lines" not only between local and international structures of power (patriarchy, nationalisms, late capitalism), but tracing them to the very door of the university.
While written for a general audience, "Imaginary Maps" will be particularly compelling for those interested in feminism, postcolonialism, and the fate of indigenous peoples.
." . . when the world is broadly divided simply into North and South, the World Bank has no barrier to its division of that world into a map that is as fantastic as it is real. This constantly changing map draws economic rather than national boundaries, as fluid as the spectacular dynamics of international capital.."
-Gayatri Spivak, from "Imaginary Maps