ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Shifting Marriage Concepts

Marrying in South Asia: Shifting Concepts, Changing Practices in a Globalising World edited by Ravinder Kaur and Rajni Palriwala (Delhi: Orient Blackswan), 2014; pp 440; Rs 925 (hardback).

Marrying in South Asia provides a comprehensive picture of the current trends in marriage and kinship in the subcontinent. Eighteen essays and their arguments are contextualised and summed up in a perspectival introduction written by the editors of the volume. Divided into six sections (a) Diversities in Models and Practices; (b) Demographic Trends; (c) Economics of Marriage; (d) Making a Marriage; (e) Love and Conjugality in and Beyond Marriage; and finally, (f) Legal Intervention and Activism, the volume is extraordinary in terms of the breadth of issues it successfully addresses.

Consanguineous marriages – both its persistence and decline, marriage payments and the expansion of dowry, shifts in patterns of alliance and matchmaking, demographic trends with respect to age at marriage, residence norms and its implications for women, links between marriage, sexuality and labour, questions of separation, divorce, abandonment and remarriage, marital dispute and reconciliation, the agency of law for women’s autonomy in marriage, a focus on the non-married which includes intimate relations amongst the queer and widowhood – are some of the themes that find mention. The volume is self-conscious in its attempt to focus on multi-caste, multi-community marriage practices in the subcontinent, in order to displace the upper caste and elite bias in anthropological frames of inquiry. Given the diversity of themes, ethnographic accounts and perspectives deployed what brings these essays together, in the words of the editors themselves, is the attempt to “map directions of continuity and change” (p 5).

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