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Marriage and Modernity: Family Values in Colonial Bengal

Rochona Majumdar (Author)
Synopsis An Innovative cultural history of the evolution of modern marriage practices in Bengal, Marriage and modernity challenges the assumption that arrnges marriage is an antiquated practice. Rochona majumdar demonstrates that in the late colonial period Bengali marriage practices underwent changes that led to a valorization of the larger, intergenerational family as a revered , 'ancient' social institution, with arranged  marriage as the apotheosis of an 'Indian' tradition.

Majumdar meticulously documents the way that these newly embraced 'traditions'–the extended family and arranged marriage–entered into competition and conversation with other emerging forms of kinship such as the modern unit of the couple, with both models participating promiscuously in the new "marketplace" for marriages, where matrimonial advertisements in the print media and the payment of dowry played central roles. She argues that together kinship structures newly asserted as distinctively Indian and the emergence of the marriage market constituted what was and still is modern about marriages in India.

The author examines three broad developments related to the modernity of arranged marriage; the growth of a marriage market, concomitant debates about consumption and vulgarity in the conduct of weddings, and the legal regulation of family property and marriages. Drawing on matrimonial advertisements, wedding invitations, poems, photographs, legal debates and a vast periodical literature, she shows that the modernization of families does not necessarily imply a transition from extended kinship to nuclear family structures or from matrimonial agreements negotiated between families to marriage contracts between individuals.

Written in an accessible style, this book will be of immense interest to scholars and students of colonial history, gender studies, anthropology, sociology and cultural studies.
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Bibliographic information

Title Marriage and Modernity: Family Values in Colonial Bengal
Format Hardcover
Date published: 27.08.2009
Edition 1st ed.
Language: English
isbn 198063830
length xii+344p.
Subjects History