November 7, 2008

Politics of Land and Gender in India
Nitya Rao

‘… Rao's book is good development anthropology with deep ethnographic insights about gender empowerment. … the Santals ...[are] a distinct part of the peasantry in a de-peasantizing world!’
- Anjan Ghosh, Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta

368 pages 215x140 mm Hardback 10 photographs
Social Science Press-Orient BlackSwan joint publication
Rs 795
ISBN 978-81-87358-24-4
Pub Date November 2008

‘Good women should not claim a share in the inheritance, even if they have no brothers….’ Notions such as this have, in their own way and over time, given the women in the Santal Parganas the resolve to wrest what is rightfully theirs.

This is a powerful book in the way in which it unfolds the lives and anxieties of Santal women in Dumka district, Jharkhand. Several case studies bring these women alive through the pages of the book. Land for the Santal women stands for security, social position and identity, and in this men have a distinct advantage. The use of personal narrative by the author brings out the similarities between the experiences of a woman brought up in a city and those of the tribal women in Jharkhand.
As the account unfolds, the reader is made aware that the use of a ‘community’ identity as adivasis has also been responsible for denying women rights to land in the context of the movement for political autonomy of Jharkhand.

Based on rich ethnographic material, this sensitive book lays bare the reality of being an adivasi and an adivasi woman, in all its nuances, in the modern globalized world.

Nitya Rao is Senior Lecturer, School of Development Studies, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK.

ContentsChapter 1: Introduction
Chapter 2: A Personal Journey
Chapter 3: Faces of Poverty: The Villages Profiled
Chapter 4: Reinventing Tradition: Agrarian Movements in History
Chapter 5: Land as a Productive Resource
Chapter 6: Locating Identities
Chapter 7: Women’s Claims to Land
Chapter 8: Custom and Courts: Bargaining with Modernity
Chapter 9: Development Interventions: Can One Size fit all?
Chapter 10: Conclusions

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