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Jewels of Authority: Women and Textual Tradition in Hindu India

Laurie L Patton (Author)
Synopsis In recent years, scholarship on the religious experiences of women has flourished. In the study of Hinduism, much of this work has hitherto explored basic issues such as power relations between the sexes, and the codification of, and conflict over, gender behaviour. The essays in this volume seek to introduce a higher level of theoretical analysis by a close reading of situations in which women are given or denied authority in ritual and interpretive contexts. This approach encompasses not only how women are represented, but also studies how they are depicted as negotiating or resisting certain kinds of authority in specific colonial and post-colonial situations. Focussing on the theme of Brahminical authority to examine its manifestations and transformation, the contributions cover a vast spectrum of topics, ranging from Vedic to contemporary times. The essays critique prevailing modes of social behaviour from the tradition’s own perspective. Some discuss the details of particular debates about women, such as those in the Vedic Mimamsa and medieval Vaisnava traditions. Others discuss textual and ethnographic problems about the agency of women, such as women’s gift-giving in Vedic, epic, and poetic sources, or the cure for problematic childbirth. Finally, other essays analyse historical situations in which women appropriate authority for themselves in relationship to Brahminical authority: in rural Rajasthan, in the colonial reform period in Calcutta, and in the conservative wing of the Hindu nationalist movement, the RSS. This authoritative volume sets a new benchmark for feminist studies of Hinduism and will be of interest to all those in the fields of gender studies, South Asian studies, religion, ethnography, and history.
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Bibliographic information

Title Jewels of Authority: Women and Textual Tradition in Hindu India
Format Hardcover
Date published: 01.01.2002
Edition 1st Ed.
Language: English
isbn 0195664043
length xxii+228p.