Browsing by Author "Aura, Siru"

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  • Aura, Siru (Helsingin yliopisto, 2008)
    Women and Marital Breakdown in South India: Reconstructing Homes, Bonds and Persons is an ethnographic analysis of the situation of divorced and separated women and their families in the South Indian city of Bangalore. The study is based on 16 months of anthropological fieldwork, i.e., participant observation and life history interviews among 50 divorced and separated women from different socio-religious backgrounds in their homes, in the women s organisations and in the Family Court. The study follows the divorced and separated women from their natal homes to their affinal homes through homelessness and legal battles to their reconstructed natal, affinal or single homes in order to find out what it means to be a person within hierarchical gender and kinship relations in South India. Marital breakdown impacts on kin relations and discloses the existing gender relations and power structure through its consequences. It makes the transformability of relational personhood as well as the transformability of relational society and culture visible. Although the study reveals the painful history of women s ill-treatment in marriage, family and kinship systems, it also demonstrates the women s rejection of the domination; and shows their ability to re-negotiate and promote changes not only to their own positions but to the whole hierarchical system as well. The study explores the divorced and separated women s manifold dilemmas, complicated legal battles, and endless arrangements when they have to struggle with the very practical problems of supporting themselves financially, finding and making a new home for themselves, and re-arranging relationships with their kin and friends. As marital breakdown fundamentally transforms the women s relational field, it forces them to recreate substitutive relations in a flexible way and, simultaneously, to re-construct themselves and their lives without a ready or positive cultural or behavioural template. This process reveals the agency of the divorced and separated women as well as shedding light on issues of gender and the cultural construction of the person in South India. This topical study explores the previously neglected subject of marital breakdown in India and shows the new meaning of kinship in South India.