This path-breaking study of women’s experiences of litigation under personal laws (those that cover marriage and inheritance) raises vital questions of identity and citizenship in Indian democracy and throws new lights on the uniform civil code debate. Maitrayee Mukhopadhyay asks why is it so difficult to disentangle woman as subject/citizen imbued with rights from that of being daughter, sister, wife, widow and the symbol of a community? Why is it that both Hindu and Muslim women are usually unsuccessful in their claims for property despite appealing to different personal laws? Mukhopadhyay looks at the hidden structurings of the neutral citizen-subject, the process of ‘norming’, the resulting exclusions, which serve to secure asymmetrical power.
Investigating the law’s stated neutrality in relation to gender, caste and community, she focuses on women’s litigation over maintenance and property claims. She finds out how the private domain of the state, which social relations are ‘normed’ and ‘invisibilized’ through this connection and how patriarchy is created through the use of adjudication. Of particular interest are the thirty case studies of seventeen Hindu women and thirteen Muslim women. Mukhopadhyay has also compiled four life histories. She writes with insight of how Hindu women are ‘ambiguous heirs’ who have to establish their right to property first before they can fight to claim it, whereas Muslim women become rightful heirs at birth but have to fight for control.
The author writes perceptively on the relationship of other women to the state. She explores the woman–state relationship through the experiences of the women’s movement in the seventies and the eighties and by looking at the reasons given by respondents on why they have appealed to the state. She concludes with a discussion of the highly charged uniform civil code debate, where feminists have found themselves sharing a platform with the Hindu Right, analyzing what the implications for gender equality are.
Trained in India and at Johns Hopkins University where she an her husband, Dr. Ajay Bang, learnt public health and research methodologies, the couple returned to India to set up a health clinic in Maharashtra’s neglected Gadchiroli district, about 170 km from Nagpur, where the Gonds are the dominant tribal group. As co-author Rupa Chinai points out, this settlement goes back to prehistory, ‘from here stretches eastwards the crescent of the tribal population, the indigenous peoples of India, that arcs across Central India and encompasses the ancient Dandakaranya forest mentioned in the epics and ancient texts of Hindusim.
Rani Bang’s research found that 92 percent of women in this region had no access to treatment for gynaecological disorders in the absence of women doctors. Such neglect was exacerbated by ‘development’ since rural families were, and remain, unprepared for the rapid changes wrought in the spheres of education, information, material enhancement and changes in lifestyle, which impact on relationships and health.
Translated into English from the original Bengali anthology, Zenana Mehfil (STREE 1998), this collection of the early writings of Bengali Muslim women helps to make visible women writers of undivided Bengal, before the partition of Bengal, between East Pakistan (today’s Bangladesh), and West Bengal, India, in 1947. Why was so little known about these writers? Do dominating interests ‘marginalize, sometimes even obliterate other histories’? Or, equally intriguing, is it the case that ‘who was more silent and invisible where and who was less so, depended on the location and orientation of the listener/viewer’?
These are some of the questions that propelled the editors, Shaheen Akhtar and Moushumi Bhowmik, to undertake this task. This translated edition has perhaps assumed greater significance, in a post 9/11 world. While reflecting on the complexity and diversity of Muslim women’s lives prior to the Partition of Bengal in 1947, Women in Concert may now be read in a new light altogether, reflecting personal struggles and crises faced by Muslim women today.
Gulabi Gang! Gulabi Gang! Watch out, here we come! Don't try and step out of line for the Gulabi Gang will win! Donning pink saris and holding sticks in their hands, the Gulabi Gang is a threat to every policeman who refuses to file a report on violence against a dalit, every husband who beats up his wife, and every goon who grabs a land that does not belong to him.
In this recounted autobiographical account, Sampat Pal, the founder and leader ofthe Gulabi Gang, looks back to trace her journey as a young girl of twelve, forced into child marriage, who later goeson to become the leader ofthe most feared group of women in the state of Uttar Pradesh. Her rebellious instinct, fervour for justice and her desire to free women from their everyday oppression led her to organize the women in and around her village into a gang.
This collection of writings from Indian, Bangladeshi and Pakistani writers, looks at the Partition of the subcontinent in 1947 and explores the still largely unaddressed aspects of the human histories of this time. Combining fiction and non-fiction writings, the volume offers perspectives, first person accounts, and interviews, with the generation of women who lived through Partition.
It looks at the impact of Partition on minorities and marginalized women, examines how Partition histories were-and continue to be-received and lived by a generation of younger women for whom its meanings are very different from what they were for their grandmothers.
Taking a broad sweep, the writings here not only span three countries, thereby providing a unique and comparative perspective, but also cover a range of subject areas, from oral history to more ‘traditional’ history, from visual history to sports. Also included is a selection of documents, which provide valuable archival material on the Partition.
In Pliable Pupils and Sufficient Self-Directors, Barnita Bagchi examines writings that focus on female education and development by five representative British women writers who flourished between 1778 and 1814— Lady Mary Hamilton, Clara Reeve, Elizabeth Hamilton, Mary Brunton and the early Jane Austen. In a climate in which female education was a subject of anxiety in print culture and fiction a site of contestation, and in which women were emerging as major producers both of educational writing and heroine-centre, ostensibly didactic fiction, these writers produced fictions of female education that were pioneering Bildungsromans. Highly gendered, these fictions explore key tensions generated by the theme of education, including the dialectics between formal and experimental education, between the pliable pupil obedient to pedagogical authority-figures and the more self-sufficient auto-didact, and between a desire for greater institutionalization of education and a recognition of the flexibility given by distancing from established structures. Such fictions, Bagchi argues, are compendious and miscellaneous, encompassing diverse domains of knowledge, such as philosophy, politics and history. There is a congruence between the ambulatory, tension-ridden patterns of female education found in these fictions and the distinctive, miscellaneous fictional knowledge they represent —their creators grappled with the epistemological and ethical status of fiction, which they connected with female experience.
The writers of these fictions held conservative views on national politics, and categories such as gender, race and class are disturbingly aligned in many of their works. However, the author argues, as far as writings on female education are concerned, the terms ‘radical’ and ‘conservative’ have limited use. Intrinsic to post-enlightenment notions of education is a dialectic found in the very etymology of ‘education’, divisible into ‘ex’ and ‘ducere’: on the hand, an element of control, found in ‘ducere’, and on the other, an outward pull towards freedom, suggested by ‘ex’. When, in an age of cultural and political revolution, gentlewomen wrote in the still upstart form of fiction about their own education, disjunctions and dialectics were stark. This freedom —control tug-of-war, according to Bagchi, should not be treated in a reductive way, and these women writers should not be straitjacketed as incipient subjects of an emergent hegemonic bourgeois order. Also, significantly, the journeys towards emancipation as well as the starkly disturbing closing off of many such possibilities in the writings analysed here, remain with us today as burningly alive issues.
In 1999, the West Bengal Commission for Women was entrusted by the state government to explore the social and human problem of destitute Bengali women, mostly widows, eking out a fragile existence in the ancient pilgrim-town of Brindaban, in Uttar Pradesh. The Report prepared by the Committee set up for this purpose, of which the author was a member, forms the core of this book. However, the author has added to it important historical and analytical material that throws new light not only on the identities of the women who have migrated to Brindaban, but also on the reasons for and factors governing their migration.
The book traces the origins of religious pilgrimage from Nabadwip of medieval Bengal to Brindaban, propelled by the popularity of the Vaishnava cult, as well as charts its metamorphosis into the NRI-sponsored pilgrim tourism of today, in the context of globalization. It describes the social vulnerabilities affecting women in different circumstances that led them to seek a life of piety such that the devotional ambience of the women of Brindaban, in their collectivity as ‘mais’, is forever ruptured and individual faces with specific histories show up within the uniform narrative of faith.
The author argues that by participating in temple rituals, the women not only enhanced their own piety or fulfilled their material needs but contributed to the reproduction of faith, in fact to keeping the whole system of institutionalized worship in operation. With globalization, however, the position of the women in the temple economy has perforce become uncertain. The image of women devotees carrying the banner of the supreme glory of Hindu womanhood has been exploited by Hindu nationalists not only for promoting faith as the traditional way of life, but also for demanding that religion be defended by muscle power creating ground for communal violence. But this iconic representation completely masks the actual struggles of the women to formulate their own subjectivity in the face of heavy odds.
Although the challenge to the hegemonic status of the institution of marriage in India is grabbing the limelight in popular media, it has received comparatively less attention in the social sciences. This path-breaking collection presents an analysis of marriage from historical, social, cultural, psychological and legal perspectives. Changes wrought by globalization, by information technology and by the increasing social visibility of queer life forms and practices have had considerable impact on the homogeneous imagination of the ‘Indian family’, with the traditional marriage system as its base. The essays in this collection look behind and beyond the institutional framework of marriage to critique the structures of our everyday lives and to explore new horizons and possibilities in the domain of the intimate.
The collection is divided into four parts, moving from a historical perspective to present-day concerns: Part I, ‘Historicizing Marriage: Marriages Are Made in Scriptures’; Part II, ‘Contextualizing Marriage: Class, Caste, Masculinity and Violence’; Part III, ‘Representing Marriage: Sex, Conjugality and Videotapes’; and Part IV, ‘Recasting Marriage: Singlehood, Coupledom and Intimate Others’.
The position of women in the Muslim societies, especially in West Asia, has been a subject of constant conjecture. Traditional mindsets and cultural hindrances have long kept women behind the veil, leaving them at the mercy of a male-dominated society. A widely prevalent notion is that women in theses countries are discriminated against far more than their counterparts in other parts of the world. There is more than an iota of truth in such a perception. But, as the present study finds out, the situation in the six states of the Gulf Cooperation Council, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and a United Arab Emirates is not as black and white as it seems. A closer analysis reveals each of these states striving in its own way to provide “the other half” of the population with better rather than equal opportunities. Despite notable success, each state has its own scales of progress and expectedly has many more miles to go.
Gender profoundly influences scientific activity and the professional lives of women. What are the underlying factors that cause gender gap in institutions of science in India? Has the scenario improved or have new factors of discrimination increased the divide? Women and Science in India examines the scientific, engineering, and medical professions in India from these perspectives.
Divided into two broad sections, this reader explores the history, epistemology, as well as quantitative and qualitative aspects of the position and careers of women in sciences. The first section investigates the historical background while the second provides the contemporary context and sociological explanations and deals with the economic parameters that determine the status of women in scientific professions.
The essays probe the challenges faced by women in science and the impact of globalization on their careers. The first three essays, trace the historical linkages and explore the discourses and institutions that have shaped the lives of women in colonial times. The volume also analyses the applicability of western theories of gendered science andfeminism for women in India. The connections between their work lives, the demands of their profession, and domestic responsibilities are examined to unravel the influence of these factors on women’s scientific productivity and research. Participation of women in education and labour markets of science and technology as well as statistical analyses of their scientific careers are the other significant areas discussed.
In her introduction, Neelam Kumar locates these essays in the emerging field of the study of the professions of women in science.