Wives, and other women

The American Institute of Indian Studies has played an important in promoting and developing scholarship on India, particularly in the areas of anthropology, history, sociology... and music. A recent title that has just been published by Orient Blackswan is Mytheli Sreenivas' Wives, Widows, and Concubines which was awarded the Joseph W. Elder Prize in the Indian Social Sciences by the AIIS and which was earlier published by them with Indiana University Press.

Sreenivas is Assistant Professor of History and Women’s Studies at The Ohio State University. In this book, her study is of the Tamil family in colonial times, particularly around the time of the nationalist movement. "The family was at the center of intense debates about identity, community, and nation in colonial Tamil Nadu, India. Emerging ideas about love, marriage, and desire were linked to caste politics, the colonial economy, and nationalist agitation. In the first detailed historical study of Tamil families in colonial India, Wives, Widows, and Concubines maps changes in the late colonial family in relation to the region's culture, politics, and economy.

Among professional and mercantile elites, the conjugal relationship displaced the extended family as the focal point of household dynamics. Conjugality provided a language with which women laid claim to new rights, even as the structures of the conjugal family reinscribed women's oppression inside and outside marriage. The book argues that notions of community centred around the changing family were fundamental to shaping national identity in the early twentieth century."

In our Anthropology, Gender and History sections, in paperback, 184 pages, Rs. 375. ISBN: 9788125037255