University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Visual Constructions of South Asia (2014-15) > Reviving Sati’s corpse: the invocation of the Shakti Pithas in modern and contemporary politics

Reviving Sati’s corpse: the invocation of the Shakti Pithas in modern and contemporary politics

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Dr Annamaria Motrescu-Mayes.

Scattered across India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Tibet are shrines and temples housing the dismembered body parts of the Hindu goddess Sati. These are known as Shakti Pithas or Seats of Power. A few of these sites have been the subjects of brief archaeological and anthropological studies but so far their role as a holistic network in a political context has been neglected. This paper will examine the Shakti Pithas in both a colonial and post-colonial context by analysing and deconstructing two visual case studies. The first is a Hindu religio-political souvenir print of Sati produced in Calcutta during the late nineteenth century. The second is a new religio-cultural initiative: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s project to establish a 51-Pitha ‘tour’ in Gujarat, which was inaugurated in February 2014. These two case studies will help to illuminate the very different ways in which the Pithas were harnessed for political purposes.

This talk is part of the Visual Constructions of South Asia (2014-15) series.

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