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Kumkum Sangari

Settled Alibis and Emerging Contradictions

Sex Selection, Dowry and Domestic Violence

While marriage remains the most decisive point of control for class(ed) reproduction, the post-conception/ prenatal moment is now emerging as the second decisive point for the control of class(ed) reproduction. Those who sell diagnostic and clinical services make an immediate profit, while the users buy only imagined futures. Within the logic of marital/natal "propertarianism", the eradication of one form of "property" - the female foetus - is believed to save other forms. This marks a patriarchal reorganisation of reproduction. This essay discusses the interlocking relation of sex selection and dowry predicated on a peculiar "propertarianism" and the logic of domestic violence. Sex selection is, in part, rationalised through cost and benefit that takes the shape of common sense, but is suffused with contradictions. It produces not national agents, but future imaginaries, paradoxes and contradictions that may not culminate in desired resolutions.

Remembering Sudesh Vaid

Her death last year, from cancer, at the age of 61, was a deep political loss that left a personal void and even ended a life-world for many people. Each of us has our private and collective memories of Sudesh, and sorting through the years of friendship, political sharing, the large memories and the small memories, is not an exercise that can be easily undertaken or ever completed.

UCC and Women s Movement

Amrita Chhachhi, Farida Khan, Gautam Navlakha, Kumkum Sangari, Neeraj Malik, Ritu Menon, Tanika Sarkar, Uma Chakravarti, Urvashi Butalia, Zoya Hasan THE Anveshi article (Anveshi Law Committee, is Gender Justice Only a Legal Issue? Political Stakes in the UCC Debate', 8, 1997) criticises tendencies within the 'Indian women's movement' that, in its opinion, have focused very narrowly and exclusively upon legal reform. The main thrust of such reforms, moreover, is described as a monolithicising intention that would like to erase all plurality of caste and community, custom and practice in the name of abstract, universal gender justice, thus denying women as well as a range of marginalised communities the right to autonomy. The universalising tendency of this version of gender justice betrays a biological essentialism that fails to take on board other aspects of women's social existence. Such tendencies are most evident among feminists who, according to Anveshi, are termed as 'upper caste, Hindu and urban' in other words, they share some social characteristics of the hindutva politics that they otherwise criticise. However, presumably because of shared social space, they 'unwittingly' lapse into some of the language and agendas of their political adversaries: the demand for a uniform or gender just civil code would be one such instance, the campaign against obscenity would be another. As examples of such immature and politically naive feminist thinking, Anveshi has singled out Forum against Oppression of Women from Bombay and Working Group on Women's Rights from Delhi.

Politics of Diversity-Religious Communities and Multiple Patriarchies

Religious Communities and Multiple Patriarchies Kumkum Sangari This essay reviews the current debate between maintaining religion-based personal laws and instituting a uniform civil code in the context of gender inequality and Hindu majoritarianism. It challenges the assumptions on which positions that advocate legal pluralism and defend personal laws have based their case.

Politics of Diversity-Religious Communities and Multiple Patriarchies

This essay reviews the current debate between maintaining religion-based personal laws and instituting a uniform civil code in the context of gender inequality and Hindu majoritarianism. It challenges the assumptions on which positions that advocate legal pluralism and defend personal laws have based their case.

Consent, Agency and Rhetorics of Incitement

Kumkum Sangari Women's agency or transformative capacity remains problematic in both theory and practice because women are simultaneously class differentiated and subject to the frequent cross-class expansion of patriarchal ideologies.

Khurja Riots 1990-91-Understanding the Conjuncture

Khurja Riots 1990-91 Understanding the Conjuncture Uma Chakravarti, Prem Chowdhury, Pradip Dutta, Zoya Hasan, Kumkum Sangari, Tanika Sarkar Elections have become an increasingly central element in the conjunctures which have produced communal riots. In Khurja in 1990-91 tension and violence mattered much more to Hindu communal parties than to other national political parties who have also been responsible for using them for electoral gain. Given the long-term strategy of the BJP to capture power at the centre, the Ramjanmabhoomi campaign alone was insufficient: though it could demonstrate that Hindu sentiments had not been 'respected' by the state, it could not establish that Hindus were physically endangered. Therefore while the campaign organised Hindu consciousness and 'ideological' needs around a central symbol and a projected act of violence, the accompanying riots tried to orchestrate the need for 'protecting' and 'preserving' Hindu interests against the projected threat from Muslims.

Institutions, Beliefs, Ideologies-Widow Immolation in Contemporary Rajasthan

Widow Immolation in Contemporary Rajasthan Sudesh Vaid Kumkum Sangari It is time to move away from the popular paradigm of the wickednesses of widow immolation and the innocence of 'blind faith' and popular belief Instead we need to explore a different set of questions.

Mirabai and the Spiritual Economy of Bhakti

Kumkum Sangari In an economy where the labour of women and the surplus production of the peasant and artisan are customarily and 'naturally' appropriated by the ruling groups, the high Hindu traditions sought to encompass and retain the management of spiritual 'surplus', and to circumscribe its availability along lines of caste and gender. In this spiritual economy, the liberalising and dissenting forms of bhakti emerge as a powerful force which selectively uses the metaphysic of high Hinduism in an attempt to create an inappropriate excess of transcendent value grounded in the dailiness of a material life within the reach of all This paper attempts to understand the specific character of Mirabai's bhakti as it finds shape within the overlapping yet contradictory configuration of the patriarchal assumptions of the medieval Rajput state, prescriptive brahminkal texts, and the female devotional voice as it develops in earlier and contemporary compositions of male bhaktas. What emerges is, firstly, that though the prescriptions of the smritis and Puranas do not survive as law, they are available as ideology which shapes the customary domain and self-description of Rajput ruling groups and constitute the historical moment in which Mira lives. Secondly, in the breaking and remaking of patriarchal relations, Mira's bhakti marks as well as belongs to a longer historical moment in which the prescriptions of the smritis and Puranas are selectively internalised, and the customary nexus of religious practice is translated into metaphors and emotional structures. Thirdly, though Mira's compositions are themselves ambivalently situated, there are significant differences in her personal practice and in her ideological location when compared to earlier and contemporary male bhaktas. And, finally, etched into Mira's enterprise is not only the difficulty of being 'original' in an oral tradition, but also the recalcitrance and the precariousness of personal rebellion.

Mirabai and the Spiritual Economy of Bhakti

Kumkum Sangari In an economy where the labour of women and the surplus production of the peasant and artisan are customarily and 'naturally' appropriated by the ruling groups, the high Hindu traditions sought to encompass and retain thi management of spiritual 'surplus', and to circumscribe its availability along lines of caste and gender In this spiritual economy, the liberalising and dissenting forms of bhakti emerge as a powerful force which selectively uses the metaphysic of high Hinduism in ah attempt to create an inappropriate excess or transcendent value grounded in the dailiness of a material life within the reach of all.