Gender, Law, and Resistance in India
Theft, poisoning, affairs, flights home, refusals to work, eat or have sex, threats to divide the joint household, and sly acts of sabotage are some of the domestic warfare tactics employed by Muslim women attempting to resist patriarchy. Gender, Law, and Resistance in India dramatically illustrates how a patriarchal ideology is upheld and reinforced through male-governed social and legal institutions and how women defy that control. Based on anthropological fieldwork in rural Rajasthan in northern India, Erin Moore's book details the life of an extended Muslim family she has known for twenty years. In many ways the plight of the central character, Hunni, is representative of dilemmas experienced by the majority of north Indian peasant women. Ultimately an account of cultural hegemony and defiance, Gender, Law, and Resistance in India reveals how so-called "modern" state institutions and practices reinforce traditional arrangements, resulting in women being silenced, deprived of equal rights before the law, and returned to their male guardians. Still, women resist in overt and covert ways. The first ethnographic work to focus principally on the law and legal institutions of gender and agency in South Asia, this unique volume examines the interpenetrations of north India's pluralistic legal systems. Moore adeptly connects engrossing case histories to national dialogues over women's rights, discussing these issues in terms of Muslim personal laws, secularism, and communal violence. Gender, Law, and Resistance in India is a rich and truly significant contribution to gender studies, South Asian studies, and sociolegal studies.
"An excellent starting point in the ethnographic study of women's struggle against the law and modern legal institutions that reinforce patriarchy in northern India." Religious Studies Review"What the reader takes away from this analysis is a sense of the multiple means and multiple forums through which women in Rajasthan (and India more generally) are able to assert a considerable amount of control over their lives, even in the face of very strong patriarchal institutions and values." American Journal of Sociology"Offers a stunning corrective to many mistaken stereotypes of South Asian womanhood . . . exciting to read and instructive to ponder." Journal of Asian Studies"The book's accessible readability and provocative data make it an excellent text for courses in South Asian Studies, gender, legal anthropology, comparative justice systems, and introductory cultural anthropology." Journal of Anthropological Research