Contentious Marriages, Eloping Couples: Gender, Caste, and Patriarchy in Northern India

Contentious Marriages, Eloping Couples: Gender, Caste, and Patriarchy in Northern India

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Item Code: IDI664
Author: Prem Chowdhry
Publisher: Oxford University Press, New Delhi
Edition: 2007
ISBN: 0195684990
Pages: 357
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details: 8.6" X 5.5
From The Jacket

This book deals with the widespread phenomenon of contentious marriages and elopements in rural and semi-urban north India. Such challenges to norms and customs have recently escalated, and have become more complex due to the changing dynamics of power between, and within, caste groups. As runaway couples question the authority of family, caste, and community, traditional powers have become more dictatorial and violent.

The study shows how colonial order strengthened caste endogamy and posed a challenge to inter-caste marriage. It focuses on the intervention of the caste panchayats. It explains how-and why-despite post-colonial changes in law and polity, these patriarchal bodies wield extra-judicial power in the name of upholding the 'honour' of family, caste, and community.

The book demonstrates how the state frequently colludes with traditional forces to de-legitimize attempts to break out of the traditional system. In the process, it often overrides question of legal and human rights of individuals. It also clamps down on female sexuality and on the exercise of women's rights over their bodies.

Dwelling on the role played by the state, the author discusses the implications of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956, for written. As beneficiaries of this Act, they, especially widows, are subjected to the most exploitative practices under the system of levirate.

The author explains why young people in twenty-first century India are defying the burdens of caste and status more openly. The emergence of a restricted marriage market, a skewed sex-ratio, an escalating dowry economy, and extensive unemployment have created a crisis of masculinity, power, and domination.

Based on extensive fieldwork, interviews, official and legal documents, and archival material, this book will be of interest to scholars of sociology, gender studies. History, and politics.

Prem Chowdhry is Former Fellow of the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, New Delhi.

CONTENTS
Acknowledgementsix
Introduction1
Arranging Marriages: Ideology of Guardianship 2. Popular Culture 6. Containing Challenges 10. Caste, Community, and Honour 14. Crimes of Honour: Wider Spread 20. Colonial and Post-Colonial Continuities and Breaks 23
Chapter 1 Colonial Period: Creeping Rigidity29
Marriage Norms and Ideology: Traditional Panchayats and Colonial Courts 32. Reigning Ideology: Female Guardianship 39. Inter-Caste Marriages: Karewa and Hierarchy 46. The Colonial Position: Reservations and Flexibility 51. Challenging Existing Patterns: Wider Concerns of Political Economy 55. Case Studies: Unequal Matches 60. Wife or Concubine: Cohabitation as Karewa 65. Polygamy: Status of Non-Caste Wife and Her Children 69. Popular Culture: Accommodating Ambivalence 73. Karewa as Levirate: Contentious Remarriage of Widows 80. Societal Flux and Its Effects 90
Chapter 2 Post-Colonial Haryana: Caste Endogamy and Traditional Panchayats92
Law Custom, and Traditional Panchayats 92. The Working of Traditional Panchayats 96. Dictating Relationships: The Case of Village Jondhi 100 Status Complexities: Resolving Claims 108. Revision of Decision: Shifting Concepts 118. Selective Application: Bhaichara and the Category of Incest 123. Class, Status, and the Urban Connection 127. Challenges: Recourse to Law 134
Chapter 3 Inter-Caste Marriages: Defying Cultural Norms139
Loharhedi Cases: A Study in Contrast 140. Involvement of the Community and the Family 158. Inter-Community Cases: The Predominance of Customary Norms 163. Inter-Caste Marriages: Private Approval, Societal Disapproval 168
Chapter 4 Cases of Runaway Marriage State Intervention173
Flexibility in Legal Position: The Crucial Age Factor and the Consent of the Guardian 175. Sexual Intercourse and Marriage: Licit and Illicit 178. Claims of Marriage: Presumptions of the Court 183. Legal Ambiguities Confirmation and Departure 188. Retrieved Woman: The Aftermath 196. State Intervention: Legitimizing and Criminalizing 198. Ideological Convergence 202
Chapter 5 Controlling Remarriage: Post-Colonial Strengthening of the Levirate204
Karewa: Widow remarriage, Levirate, and Punar Vivah 205. The Strengthening of Levirate: Widow Inheritance 207. Remarrying the Widow: Financial Attractions 211. Confrontation and Resistance: Case Studies 214. Acceptance of Levirate: How Popular is 'Popular Sanction'? 222
Chapter 6 Understanding Local Perceptions: Caste225
Stereotypes and Cultural Explanations
Hold of Caste Stereotypes: Cultural Explanations 225. Hidden Voices: Public and Private Faces 234. Perceived Threat: Challenging Social Order 244
Chapter 7 Social Factors: Political Economy250
of Contentious Marriages
Marriage Market: Constricting Factors 251. Panchayat's Intervention: Strength, Motivation, and Vested Interests 263. Marginalization of the Panchayat: The Traditional Leadership 266. Quasi-Urbanization: Weakening of Traditional Bonds and Controls 272. Consumerism: Changing Lifestyles 276. Cultural and Social Insecurities: Generation and Gender Gap 83. Asserting Masculinity: The Marginalized289
Epilogue: Complexities and Concerns296
Glossary310
Bibliography315
Index329
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