As the discipline of gender studies has almost become synonymous with women’s studies, men and masculinities are subsumed under patriarchy/ies and constructed as monolithic across space, time, cultures and social groups. Though men’s studies have proliferated in Western academia, in India the research in this direction is lacking. Neither is there a coherent theory of masculinities, nor individual studies of different regions.
This book fills this conceptual gap by emphasising the need to engage with the complexity of masculinities; to understand it not only as an ideological construct, but also a set of practices that are both diverse and fluid. It throws much needed light on how, despite various contradictions and mutual antagonisms, different masculinities are able to act in unison on certain crucial matters that have severe societal repercussions.
The field area of this study is rural north India, with special reference to Haryana, which has been the author’s focus of research for three decades. She locates the study of masculinities in different historical junctures in the political economy of Haryana, stretching from the colonial period to the era of globalisation, in order to understand how notions of masculinity are defined and redefined. In the context of caste and class relations, patriarchy and other social divisions, the author investigates the contribution of such masculinities to what we are witnessing today: greater aggression and violence, worsening gender equations, greater exploitation of other subordinate categories, consolidation of repressive social forces and the strengthening of casteism and communalism.
I. Militarised Masculinities: Shaped and Reshaped in Colonial South-East Punjab
II. Alternatives to Militarised Masculinity: Emerging Patterns
III. Popular Perceptions of Masculinity: Oral Tradition in Rural North India
IV. Crisis of Masculinity in Haryana: The Unmarried, the Unemployed and the Aged
V. Masculine Spaces: Rural Male Culture in North India
VI. Understanding a Male Concept: ‘Honour’ in Honour Killings
VII. Contradictions in Masculinity: Contextualising it within a Caste Group