In this book, Mary Hancock challenges readers to rethink the notions of tradition and modernity that have figured centrally in anthropological discussions of social change in South Asia. She shows tradition and modernity to be categories created, deployed, and objectified by Tamil Brahmans as they produce their own class, gender, national, and sectarian identities. This highly original ethnographic analysis of Brahman women's ritualized practice demonstrates how tradition and modernity?and the shifting boundaries between them?are explicitly and implicitly produced and reworked on the body of the ideal, auspicious married woman. Through case studies of women's religious practices, the book reveals how female subjectivities are invented and reworked through ritually mediated relations among women and between women and the powerful goddesses to whom they are devoted.Womanhood in the Making: Domestic Ritual and Public Culture in Urban South India asks readers to rethink not only their images of Hindu women, but also the history of anthropological study of India. Hancock shows how anthropological categories of analysis are produced and deployed by both ethnographers and their informants in cultural brokerage, in elite nationalisms, and in Milton Singer's foundational study of social change in South Asia.Provocative and engaging, this work will interest scholars and students of anthropology, history, cultural studies, women's studies, and religion.
Table of Contents
List of Figures, Acknowledgments, Guide to Pronunciation, Credits, Part 1 Introduction, Prologue: Making and Unmaking the "Great Tradition", Tradition, Modernity, and Their Gendered Places, Domestic Ritual and Its Practice, Feminisms, The Public Culture of Domestic Rituat, About the Book, Part 2 Elite Cultures and Hybrid Modernities, Brokering Culture for the Nation Caste, Culture, and Modernity, Smārta Brahmans in Chennai: Historical Roots of Contemporary "Middleness,", Elite Identity and Postcolonial Cultural Politics, Smārtas As Cultural Brokers, Conclusion, The Moral Etiquette of Everyday Hinduism, Everyday Hinduism, The Domestic Interior, Conclusion: Cultural Logics of Consumption, Part 3 The World in the Home, The Ritualization of Womanhood Ritual Time, The Life Course Imagined, Negotiating Normativity, Temporality and Womanhood, Conclusion: Womanhood's Contradictions, The Uncertain Subject(s) of Womanhood, The Goddess and Her Servants, Improvised Lives, Part 4 The Home in the World, Hinduism and the Spaces of Modernity Hindu Temples and the "Public Sphere," Temples As Contested Public Spaces, Religion and Urban Life, Urban Places and Female Spaces Parvati, Rajalakshmi, Conclusion, Hindu Culture for an Indian Nation Hindutva Goes South, Consenting to What?, Jan Kalyān As a Discourse of Hindu Nationalism, Bringing the Nation Home, Tradition Revisited Navarāttiri in a New Key, The Contest, Ethnographies and Feminisms, Glossary, References, Index
Mary Hancock is assistant professor of anthropology at the University of California at Santa Barbara.