Intersections: a Journey towards Empowerment of Women in Australian and Bengali Folk Tales

Saumitra Chakravarty (Studiosa indipendente)


This paper attempts a comparison between the folk tales of the Australian aborigines and the rural societies of Bengal. Through an analysis of the commonality of themes, modes of narration, the significance and symbolism of each set of tales and the variations they undergo when narrated by different sets of tellers, this paper tries to establish a partnership between ethnic societies across the world with particular emphasis on the projection of women in their folk narratives. It also highlights the necessity for self expression experienced by these women who are the worst victims of a dominator culture and how the tale becomes a fulfillment of their desire for liberation from their predicament.


Bandopadhyay, Subhas. 1969. Folk literature of the Frontiers of West Bengal. Calcutta: Sahitya Prakash.

Burkhalter Flueckiger, Joyce. March 1997. “There are only Two Castes: Men and Women; Negotiating Gender as a Female Healer in South Asian Islam” in Oral Tradition, Vol. 12, no.1: 76-102.

Chakravarty, Saumitra. November 2009. “Patriarchal Politics and the (Dis)Empowerment of Hindu Goddesses: Unveiling the Chandi Mangal and the Devi Mahatmya of the Markandeya Purana” in Intersections: Gender, History and Culture in the Asian Context, 22: 1-11.

Chatterjee, Partha. 1999. “Women and the Nation” in Partha Chatterjee Omnibus. New Delhi: Oxford University Press: 135-157.

Clunies Ross, Margaret. May 1986. “Australian Aboriginal Traditions” in Oral Tradition, Vol. 1, no. 2: 231-271.

Dorson, Richard ed. 1972. “Folk Narrative” in Folklore and Folklife:An Introduction. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press: 53-83.

Dharwadker, Vinay ed.1999a. “Telling Tales” in The Collected Essays of A.K. Ramanujan. New Delhi: Oxford University Press: 448-462.

Dharwadker, Vinay ed.1999b. “A Flowering Tree: A Woman’s Tale” in The Collected Essays of A.K. Ramanujan: 413-428.

Goodwin Raheja, Gloria. March 1997. “Negotiated Solidarities: Gendered Representations of Disruption and Desire in North Indian Oral Traditions and Popular Culture” in Oral Tradition, Vol 12, no.1: 173-225.

Hall, Rodney (selected). 1981. The Collins Book of Australian Poetry. Sydney: Fontana: 13-19.

Hariharan, Githa. 1992. The Thousand Faces of Night. New Delhi: Penguin. Harney, W.E. 1959. Tales from the Aborigines. London: Robert Hale Ltd.

Lamb, Sarah. March 1997. “The Beggared Mother: Older Women’s Narratives in West Bengal. in Oral Tradition, Vol12, no1: 54-75.

Majumdar”, Leela (trans).1977. Revd. Lal Behari Dey’s Folk Tales of Bengal. Calcutta: Annapurna Prakashan: 116-30.

Pinkola Estes, Clarissa. 1994. “Introduction” in Thomas, Sue ed. in Wild Women. London: Vintage: xv-xxiv.

Views: 675

Download PDF

Downloads: 450