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Remembering Leela Dube

Leela Dube's writings trace her own anthropological and personal journeys and also capture one history of the gendering of the social sciences in India, in particular of anthropology. Dube drew strength from the growing women's movements worldwide and the burgeoning scholarly literature to pull together her refl ections on kinship, marriage, motherhood, womanhood and gender relations.

An obituary is a celebration at a time of sadness. If one counted according to local practice, Leela Dube was 90 when she passed away on 20 May 2012. Anthropologist, socio­logist, feminist, commentator and teacher, but also mother and homemaker, she lived a life in which she balanced and pulled together multiple dimensions of these roles and more.

One’s first sighting of Leelaji, as I called her over the 25-plus years through which I closely interacted with her, was deceptive. As was the honorific of what she expected in her relationships with those younger than her. Small in height, hair up and yet all over the place, beautiful saris, a gentle smile – and then she spoke and you saw her sparkling eyes, full of curiosity, and the occasional ­mischievous glint.

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