By Subhadra Mitra Channa
This booklet is an exam of gender in South Asia and its intersection with different social variables like caste and sophistication. It spans a large canvas when it comes to assorted social periods, starting from elite to Dalit girls of India, and takes fabric from historic texts and sleek media, literature and ethnographic fabrics forming a historic discourse. there's an appraisal of what feminism potential within the Indian context and the cross-cultural building of patriarchy that varies in its manifestations throughout time and area. The readers are taken on a trip that indicates how gender can simply be understood in its social and old context and as a dynamic and performative idea that emerges out of either collective imaginations and social realities. using descriptive and narrative type makes the publication readable and relaxing to either educational and non-academic readers.
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Extra info for Gender in South Asia: Social Imagination and Constructed Realities
Some of them were women of good families, sometimes even highly accomplished, yet not acceptable as women of good virtue or respectable women. However, spirituality was a liminal space that could be occupied by women who may have chosen to be neither dasis nor devis, that is, chosen neither domesticity nor the independence of a courtesan. The Bhakti movement provided one such path that began as a protest against Brahmanical Hinduism and its stranglehold in the medieval ages. It began with the eighth century Tamil poet Karraikal Ammaiyar and spread to the North by the fifteenth and the sixteenth century.
For this chapter, I rely partly on my own family narratives as they were handed down to me by my mother and through her, about two generations of women in colonial India. This is supplemented with references to sociological and anthropological literature about colonial India and some eminent literary works. This chapter shows how a class-based hierarchy was superimposed on the earlier, largely caste-based divisions of Indian society and also, how certain earlier non-existing categories, such as those of the ‘firangi’ (foreigner), the ‘bhadramahila’ (lady) and the ‘sahib’ and ‘memsahib’, entered not only the vocabulary but also the cognitive categories of the people to create and comprehend new forms of distinctions introduced by colonialism.
Thus, a poor, young Brahmin girl is married to the old man while he is waiting to die on the riverbank. The young wife has to set up house on the river side just passing days when she will have to ascend the funeral pyre. The chandal (untouchable) who is charge of the cremation ground takes pity on her and befriends her urging her to run away. They develop a sexual relationship but the floods come and break the bank of the river and the wife dies while hanging on to the husband’s body in an attempt to save him.