Dharma's Daughters: Contemporary Indian Women and Hindu Culture

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Rutgers University Press, 1991 - History - 198 pages
"Mitter sees not only the grim aspects of the social construction of gender, but also the strength, courage, and spirit of Indian women. . . . Will command a wide readership among those interested in contemporary social and political issues."--Veena Talwar Oldenburg, Bernard Baruch College, CUNY "A product of years of observation by a non-Indian woman of the lot of women in urban India. It portrays the complex life of Indian women who are circumscribed by a sense of duty and self-sacrifice."--Little India "A fascinating book, rich in contemporary material, Hindu myth and culture, and analysis of the pressures on the women's movement toward 'accommodation or resistance.'"--The Radcliffe Quarterly "A formidable achievement. . . . Mitter spans almost the entire spectrum of the 'woman's question' providing both information and insight into the complex patterns that determine the image, self-image, and status of women in contemporary India."--Manini Chatterjee, The Hindu (India) Combining vivid description with thoughtful analysis, Sara Mitter reveals the condititions that shape women's lives in a traditional, patriarchal society. Mitter introduces us to diverse women who live and work in Bombay, from construction crew laborers and illiterate domestic workers who live in shanties, to well-educated, middle-class women. She also confronts the question of gender in Indian society, as she examines the influence of the Goddess mythology and the persistence of such normative models as Sita of the Ramayana in contemporary daily life. In a final section, Mitter tells of the increasing moblilization and resistance of Indian women since the 1970s. She looks at the nature of the conflicts and choices facing Indian women today, and the potential consequences for the India of tomorrow. Sara S. Mitter is an American writer based in Paris. Married to an Indian physicist, she has made many visits to India and has lived there for periods of her life.

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Dharma's daughters: contemporary Indian women and Hindu culture

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This idiosyncratic treatment of the life of women in India's hierarchical and patriarchal society is divided into three distinct segments with little to unify them. Part 1 is a vivid collage of the ... Read full review


Introduction i
The Dance of Mayuri
The Womens Compartment
The Hazards of Homemaking
Cleaners and Handicrafters
Fetchers and Carriers
Ingredients of Everyday Life
The Epic Wife
Power and Containment
Ony a Female
To Change Your Own Life
The Collective Venture
Careless Daughters
A FourThousandYearOld History


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About the author (1991)

Sara S. Mitter is a journalist. Married to an Indian physicist, she has made many visits to India.

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