FREEDOM AND DESTINY: Gender, Family and Popular Culture in India

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Item Code: IDF543
Publisher: Oxford University Press, New Delhi
Language: English
Edition: 2006
ISBN: 0195679911
Pages: 309
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 8.9" X 5.8"
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Book Description
From the Jacket:

This volume of seven essays on themes of family and gender in Indian popular culture seeks to commend popular culture as an important resources for sociological insights into contemporary social issues and processes. Drawing its material from three popular media-'calendar art' (popular chromolithography), commercial 'Bollywood' cinema and magazine romance fiction- the essays bring a gender-sensitive perspective to bear on the representation of the family, of childhood, of courtship and conjugality, of arranged and love marriage, of femininity and masculinity and of sexuality within and outside marriage, as well as on the wider dilemmas and dynamics of Indian modernity and nation-building.

While Much has been written on the figure of the woman as icon of the national society and on the Hindu pantheon as a template for visualizing gender roles and relationship, the author also takes up here the iconization of the child and the family in the national imaginary, illustrating her arguments with stunning visuals from her personal collection of Indian calendar art.

Freedom and Destiny explores the contradictions in the moral economy of Indian family life as these are projected in the contemporary popular media. Particularly salient is the tension between the expression of female desire and culturally normative expectations of feminine deportment. But the volume also addresses the insistent challenges of modernity in the domain of private life whereby for men and women alike, the ideals of individual autonomy and freedom of choice and action are seen to be constrained by a social ethic that privileges the value structure of the joint family over the individual needs and desires of its members and the lure of romance.

Written over the last dozen years since the institutionalization of policies of economic liberalization in the early 1990s, and revised in the present context some of these pioneering essays have now become classics in their own right. By bringing them together the author underlines their essential thematic unity across several distinct genres of popular culture. The effort has been to achieve accessibility and to avoid sociological jargon, without sacrificing either disciplinary rigor or, for that matter, the underlying feminist standpoint.

Addressed primarily to a sociological audience this book should also be of interdisciplinary interest to students of media and visual culture studies, gender studies, family studies and cultural history and to a wider reading public.

About the Author:

Patricia Uberoi is Professor of Sociology at the institute of Economic Growth, Delhi.


Acknowledgements Vii
Preface Ix
List of Illustrations Xvii
1 Beautyfull Wife, Danger Life: Engaging with popular culture 1
I . A Moving Message 1
Beautyfull Wife, Danger Life 1
II. Reading Popular Culture 3
The Concept of Popular Culture 3
The Semiotics of Popular Culture 7
Imagining the Nation 10
III. Gender and Genre 12
Visual Culture and the Controlling 'Gaze' 13
Reading the Romance 16
IV. Rethinking the Family 20
The Kinship Map of India 20
The Indian Joint Family 22
Arranged Marriage 24
Dowry and Brideprice 26
The Limits of Family Change 28
The moral economy of the Indian Family 29
V. Dharma and Desire, Freedom and Destiny 33
2. Feminine identity and national Ethos in calendar art 48
I. Woman/Goddess/Nation: A Contemporary Controversy 48
II. Defining Calendar Art 49
III. Ravi Varma and the Invention of Calendar Art 52
IV. Deciphering the Archive: Gender and Calendar Art 58
Objects of desire/Commodities on Sale 60
Icons of Nation 62
Plurality and Difference 66
V. Trajectories of change? 68
3. 'Baby' Icons: Forms And Figures of a New Genration 85
I. Introduction 85
II. Envisioning Childhood 87
III. South Asian Childhoods 90
Child Socialization as Pathology 91
Childhood between Tradition and Modernity 93
Cosmologies of Childhood 95
IV. Representing the Child 97
God-baby 98
Welcome-baby 100
Citizen-baby 102
Hero-baby 103
Customized-baby 104
4. Desire and Destiny: Rescripting the Man-Woman Relationship in Popular Cinema 114
I. Prologue: On a Personal Note 114
II. The Body Language of Popular Cinema 117
III. the Problematics of Romance 119
Dharma and Desire 121
Freedom and Destiny 123
IV. A Paradigm of Desire 124
Jabba and Bhoothnath 125
Chhote Sarkar and the Courtesan 126
Chhoti Bahu and Chhote Sarkar 127
Bhootnath and Chhoti Bahu 129
V. Happy and Unhappy Endings 130
5. Imagining the Family: An Ethnogorphy of Viewing Hum Aapke Hain Koun! 138
I What Makes a Clean Movie? 143
The Lack of Vulgarity 143
The Display of Affluence 148
The Sprit of Sacrifice 150
The Family as Tradition 152
II. the Constitution of the Ideal Indian Family 155
The Ideal of the Joint family 156
Affinity as a Value 158
The Truth- telling Voice 159
III. The Pleasures of Viewing: Voyeurism, Narcissism and a Happy Ending 162
IV. The Emblematic Family 168
6. The Diaspora Comes Home: Discipling Desire in DDLJ 180
I. Prologue 180
II. Indianness: At Home and Abroad 181
III. Diwale Dulhania Le Jayenge 185
IV. Romance, Indian Style 189
V. The Tyranny of 'Trdition' 196
VI. Pardes: Reinstititing the Contradiction of India and the West 200
VII. 'American Dreams, Indian Soul' 204
VIII. Indian Dreams, Transnational Location 206
7. Learning to AdjustL The Dynamics of Post-Marital Romance 217
I. Domesticating Romance Friction 217
II. Woman's Era 220
III. Twenty Tales of True Romance 222
Tales of Courtship 223
Tales of Conjugal Love 224
Sources of Material Tension 226
Mediation 227
Resolution 227
IV. True-lifeTales of Material Breakdown 232
V. Prescription for a Happy Marriage 235
VI. Conclusion 238
8. Scripting Romance? Tribulations of Courtship in Popular Fiction
I. Introduction: Constructing the Problematic 248
II. Narrative Trajectories 252
Making 'Love' Respectable 252
Putting 'Love' into Arranged Mariage 256
III. Conclusion 261
References 264
Index 301

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