Several books have been written about the position of women in India s patriarchal society. This collection of twelve narratives, however, focuses not so much on women s subservient position vis-à-vis men, but on women s relations with each other. With the authors locating their personal struggles within those of three generations of women in their families, these narratives span a period of over 100 years, and intersect both the private and public domains.
Reflecting on the emotional lines of matriliny within the social structure of patriliny, each narrative in A Space of Her Own is a tale of how the author fought to establish her own personhood and create a sphere of autonomy where she is able to make decisions to nurture herself and those around her. Four themes emerge prominently from these narratives:
- <span style="font-size: 9pt; text-align: left;">The role of renegade predecessors in the family who set out a pattern of independence that paved the way for, or inspired, the author.</span>
- <span style="font-size: 9pt; text-align: left;">The presence of mothers or grandmothers who came forward in situations of stress to exhibit unforeseen strengths; and mothers whose demand for personal space remained unfulfilled, but which became a source of determination for the author.</span>
- <span style="font-size: 9pt; text-align: left;">The stories of obstacles overcome the biggest of which is being born female in a culture that denigrates, distrusts, and ultimately fears women.</span>
- <span style="font-size: 9pt; text-align: left;">The effects of external social change which, along with internal family dynamics, made the authors who they are today.</span>
It is stories such as these, the editors argue, which when repeated over generations will inspire women to live with dignity and to create and defend lives for themselves, their families, and the women who follow them. Powerful and moving, these narratives will interest students and scholars in the fields of women s studies and cultural studies, while being widely welcomed by feminists, activists and anyone interested in the status of women in India.
Author Bio: <div style="text-align: justify;">Leela Gulati
was born in Mysore, India. She grew up in Baroda and was educated at the Maharaja Sayajirao University, where she began her teaching career. Later on she moved to Trivandrum and was associated with the Centre for Development Studies. Lately she has been working on the female dimension of ageing and widowhood. In recent years her focus has been on architecture and is closely working with the Laurie Baker Centre to pursue her architectural passion.
Most of her earlier work focused on the issues of women, work and poverty, and she has tried to use the tools of the anthropologist to understand economic questions. She is known for the intensive use of case studies as a research methodology. These narratives that she has edited are also an extension of the same methodology with a focus to understand how and when do women in societies change. Can one trace the social, economic and political change and its impact over women over a period of time. She has also been interested in the study of women in the International labour migration stream, both on women who stay behind and on those who migrate.
<div style="text-align: justify;">Jasodhara Bagchi
is Emeritus Professor of Women's Studies at Jadavpur University, where she was also Professor of English until her retirement. She is former Chairperson of the West Bengal Commission for Women. Her focus areas of research include women's studies, women's writings, 19th century English and Bengali literature, the reception of Positivism in Bengal, motherhood, and the Partition of India. Her authored, edited, and co-edited books include Literature, Society, and Ideology in the Victorian Era (1992), Indian Women: Myth and Reality (1995), The Trauma and the Triumph: Gender and Partition in Eastern India (co-edited with Subhoranjan Dasgupta, 2003), and The Changing Status of Women in West Bengal 1970 2000: The Challenges Ahead (2005).
Review: "What impresses me the most about these narratives is the perceptiveness, emotional depth, and openness of personal feelings they display. The volume makes engrossing reading, is thematically well integrated, and provides abundant food for thought."
Source: (Sylvia Vatuk 2007-06-01)
This book was added to South Asia bookstore on Thursday 07 May, 2015.