The ten essays in this book are drawn from a wide variety of disciplines and weave a complex pattern of the experience of women in India over the last hundred years. The book departs from traditional historiography which has given inadequate attention to women, and in this sense, From the Seams of History attempts to 'rewrite' history.
Beginning with the debate on widow remarriage in Bengal and Haryana, the book moves on to examine how the new fashions in clothing of the Bengali 'gentlewomen' in the nineteenth century were tailored according to the values and anxieties of their dominant male counterparts. The argument of male domination is taken further in an essay demonstrating that male oppression of women in Indian society was in fact remarkably similar to that of the colonial masters. One piece describes the condition of the Bengali Muslim bhadramahila ('gentlewomen') and their outstanding contribution to women's education and literary activity. But the following points out that education largely reflected and reinforced the value system of the larger society. Subsequent essays concern the questioning of socially legitimized assumptions about the role of women, organized militancy among the pleasant women of Bihar, and the marginalization of women in the economic sphere.
About the Author:
Bharati Ray is a member of the Rajya Sabha, Parliament of India, and has taught history at Calcutta University. She was also Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the University from 1988 to 1995. She has recently co-edited From Independence Towards Freedom.
Excerpts from Review:
'Fascinating because of its freshness ...the book is a reader's delight.
'...informative analysis of the evolution of a feminist consciousness in Bengal.'
'...topic is of interest to all ...a good book.'
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