One of the only ethnographic studies of Dalit women, this book gives a rich account of individual Dalit women’s lives and documents a rise in patriarchy in the community. The author argues that as Dalits’ economic and political position improves, ‘honour’ becomes crucial to social status. One of the ways Dalits accrue honour is by altering patterns of women’s work, education and marriage and by adopting dominant caste gender practices. But Dalits are not simply becoming more like the upper catstes; they are simultaneously asserting a distinct, politicised Dalit identity, formed in directb opposition to the dominant castes. They are developing their own ‘politics of culture’.
Key to both, the author argues, is the ‘respectability’ of women. This has significant effects on gender equality in the Dalit community.
Clarinda Still is a Postdoctoral Researcher (Contemporary South Asian Studies Programme) at the School of Interdisciplinary Area Studies, University of Oxford. She has written several papers in distinguished journals. She is also the Editor of Dalits in Neoliberal India: Mobility or Marginalisation? London, New Delhi: Routledge, 2014.
The book brings out the tensions and contradictions of the Dalit community, especially how Dalit patriarchy creates several hurdles to limit Dalit feminist agency.
Gopal Guru, JNU
Dalit Women is a passionate and nuanced book that is quite beautifully written: it is a real pleasure to read.
Professor Stuart Corbridge, LSE
An excellent, fascinating and vivid account of the day-to-day lives of women in modernizing rural Dalit families in South India.
Karin Kapadia, University of Oxford
Clarinda Still’s vivid and accessible case study of a ‘traditionally’ marginalized population provides a compelling analysis of the interplay between gender, caste and class differentiation. Anybody interested in the way in which these fundamental axes of social inequality intersect with each other in contemporary India should read it.