Moderland utan kvinnor: kast, klass och patriarkat i Manish Jhas Matrubhoomi


  • Johanna Gondouin Mångkulturellt centrum och Stockholms universitet
  • Suruchi Thapar-Björkert Uppsala universitet



kast, klass, Indien, maskulinitet, våld


This article offers a critical analysis of Manish Jha’s debut feature film Matrubhoomi: A Nation Without Women (2003). The movie offers a dystopic vision of a near future when the systematic killing of new born females would leave villages and its surroundings with no women in it at all. Referring to this phenomenon as ‘bachelor villages’, scholars have identified this as an emerging social problem with wide far-reaching implications for gender relations and social life in general. Existing scholarship has highlighted how the shortage of women leads to increasing levels of violence embodied in practices such as polyandry, child marriage, rape, trafficking and kidnapping of women from neighbouring regions. Furthermore, the film articulates a central paradox: the symbolic deification of the ‘mother of the nation’ in national imaginary and her systematic elimination through sex-selective reproductive technologies.

In our close reading, we draw on feminist political economy to understand the power dynamics shaped through the intersections of gender, class and caste and how this transforms the social fabric in a village which has systematically eliminated women and girl-children. We combine a thematic analysis with a reading of Matrubhoomi’s cinematic features.

Furthermore, the violence in the film is analyzed through what we call ”economies of violence” which is related to the paradoxical development trajectory in India. While the Indian government has initiated several schemes for the empowerment of women, these progressive processes are often accompanied by escalating violence against women, which cannot be abstracted from cultural configurations of gendered practices of son preference and sex selective abortions. We highlight the pivotal theme of remasculinization as constructed in relation to patriarchy, caste, class and sexuality and how it functions as a vector for economies of violence. We suggest that the film illustrates how a seemingly feminist agenda can be formulated from the position of a patriarchal, heteronormative, homophobic and transphobic logic.


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