Utopia

Project Name:我们 (Phonetic: wǒmen, meaning: us)

Medium: Ink drawings

Summary: One theme that has been persistent throughout the course is that context is crucial, especially within the cultural studies approach. Sultana’s Dream by Rokeya Hossain depicts a feminist utopia, but it is specifically the utopia of a Muslim women living in the early twentieth century. There are clear influences of this time period, like the fascination with and optimism towards scientific innovation.

In order to extend Hossain’s exploration of a feminist utopia, I sought out two women important to me that live in very different contexts – my mother and my best friend from home. I asked them to give me a short answer to the following question: “What would you imagine a utopia for women to be like?” and added my own interpretation as well. I then drew my best interpretation of all our words alongside Hossain’s imagined world, using abstract symbols to reflect the idea that utopia is dreamt of.

There are some obvious differences – we live in a progressive society, one in which women are afforded the same rights as men and where feminist rhetoric is not suppressed. That being said, there are some interesting contrasts between all the explanations – Rokeya is the only one to make a distinction between men and women, while I mentioned the blurring of this exact distinction. My mother immediately referenced personal qualities, while by best friend did so but in the context of not defining them. Overall, though is agreement that there is still work to do.

*Note: drawings are linked to due to technical difficulties with WordPress


Rokeya, born 1880, Bengali

You need not be afraid of coming across a man here. This is Ladyland, free from sin and harm. (p. 8)

Drawing here

Crystal, born 1968, Chinese

Self-confident: happy, independent with strong mind. She knows who she is, what she wants and what she can give up.

Drawing here

Shaleena, born 1995, Bengali-American

A world where we don’t face the pressure to fit a certain mold… it sounds cliché but a world without an expectation or preference about how perfect we are (physically, having to be well-rounded, people shouting for us to lean in).

Drawing here

Kat, born 1994, Asian-American

Somewhere where how people act towards you is predicated on you being human, not on you being a certain gender.

Drawing here