This collection of essays stands at an unarticulated conjuncture within the feminist movement and women's studies that have emerged in India since the 1970s. Political and social life in the country in the last decade has given rise to a variety of question concerning the nature and resilience of patriarchal system in a transitional and post-colonial society. The writers in this volume include scholars from various disciplines.
The essays in the anthology belong to two interrelated sets. The first seeks to analyse the patriarchal discourses of a colonial society and include an analysis of the shaping of Hindu- Aryan identity, the parameters of the discourse on widow-immolation, the 'defeminisation' of popular culture in nineteenth century urban Calcutta, the nature of the reforms proposed by early women's journals in Hindi, the implications of the nationalist movement and of Indo-Anglian literature in middle-class patriarchal norms. The second set of articles relating to women of the productive classes include reconstitution of patriarchies in the agrarian transition in Haryana, in the Oudh peasant movement, in the armed peasant struggle in Telangana, and among the working class in Bengal.
The anthology thus attempts to explore the inter-relation of patriarchies with political economy, law, religion and culture and to suggest a different history of reform movements and of class and gender relations. The book seeks to uncover the dialectical relation of feminism and patriarchy-in the changing position and status of women in its material specificity, as well as in its representation, often inversely, in the discourse which legitimize it- both in the policies of the colonial state and the politics of anticolonial movements.
About the Editors
Kumkum Sangari and Sudesh Vaid are teachers of literature at Indraprastha College for Women, Delhi University. Together they have edited a collection of essays entitled Women and Culture and done extensive research on Widow immolation in Rajasthan. Kumkum Sangari has written on American and Latin American literature, literary theory and women's studies and is engaged in a project on literature and colonialism. She is Associate Editor of the Journal of Arts and Idea
Sudesh Vaid has published several articles and a book, The Divided Mind: Studies in Select Novels of Defoe and Richardson. She is active in the women's and civil liberties movements in India.
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