By Veena Talwar Oldenburg
The Hindu customized of dowry has lengthy been blamed for the homicide of other halves and feminine babies in India. during this hugely provocative publication, Veena Oldenburg argues that those killings are neither approximately dowry nor reflective of an Indian tradition or caste method that encourages violence opposed to girls. really, such killings might be traced on to the impacts of the British colonial period. within the precolonial interval, dowry used to be an establishment controlled via girls, for ladies, to permit them to set up their prestige and feature recourse in an emergency. on account of the big fiscal and societal upheaval caused by British rule, women's entitlements to the valuable assets bought from land have been erased and their keep an eye on of the method lowered, finally leading to a devaluing in their very lives. Taking us on a trip into the colonial Punjab, Veena Oldenburg skillfully follows the paper path left by way of British bureaucrats to indict them for reading those crimes opposed to ladies because the inherent defects of Hindu caste tradition. The British, Oldenburg claims, publicized their "civilizing challenge" and blamed the caste approach with a view to hide up the devastation their very own agrarian rules had wrought at the Indian geographical region. A forceful demystification of up to date bride burning concludes this remarkably unique ebook. Deploying her personal reviews and stories and her learn at a women's defend with "dowry instances" for nearly a 12 months within the mid-eighties, the writer appears to be like on the modern violence opposed to better halves and daughters-in-law in smooth India. Oldenburg seamlessly weaves the modern with the old, the non-public with the political, and strips the layers of exoticism off an old perform to teach how a useful security web was once twisted right into a lethal noose. She brings us startlingly with reference to the worsening remedy of contemporary Indian girls as she demanding situations us to reconsider simple assumptions approximately women's human and financial rights. Combining rigorous study with impassioned research and a nuanced remedy of a posh, deeply debatable topic, this publication reviews colonialism whereas retaining a replicate to gender discrimination in smooth India.
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Additional resources for Dowry Murder: The Imperial Origins of a Cultural Crime
This profound change, glossed only brieﬂy in studies of women’s right to property, is a key element in my analysis of Punjabi women’s relationship to land. In the colonial period, their historical customary entitlements to the produce of the land were translated into a lack of titular rights in ownership of the land. ), I have explored the brunt of the new colonial revenue policies and command economy on the dynamics of power within peasant families. With the creation of male individual property rights in land, the British decided to create the individual peasant owner as the centerpiece of their modern revenue policy.
What was to be called the ryotwari settlement involved giving property titles to the land directly to the peasants (ryots) who tilled it. The policy might well have worked as well as its predecessors had the British not clung to two of its components: ﬁxed amounts and inelastic dates for the payment of land revenue, with little room for contingency. These ﬁxities, along with the newly created ability of peasant proprietors, especially those with smallholdings, to alienate their land through mortgage or sale, increased their vulnerability enormously; the government’s unrelenting demand for revenue even in a bad year often led to forced alienation.
Meanwhile, their dowry might well have been spent on the husband’s family’s holdings. This created the very problem that has engaged feminist scholarship and activism from the late nineteenth century onward: the ﬁght for women’s rights to property. The “masculinization” of the economy was one factor that made male children ever more desirable. In addition, the effects of recruiting the British Indian Army heavily from the ranks of Punjabi peasants, particularly the land-tilling Jats, generated a demand for strong young men who would be employed with a cash wage, awards of land, and eventually pensions.