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Book Reviews Being A Woman in South Asia Kalpana Bardhan Mies, Maria. Indian Women and Patriarchy: conflicts and dilemmas of students and working women. Delhi: Concept Publishing Co. 1980. Sharma, Ursula. Women, Work and Property in North-West India. London: Tavistock Publications. 1980. Wolf, Margery. Women and the Family in Rural Taiwan. Stanford: Stanford University Press. 1972. Bennett, Lynn. Dangerous Wives and Sacred Sisters: Social and Symbolic Roles of High-caste Women in Nepal. New York: Columbia University Press. 1983. Epstein, Scarlett T. and Watts, Rosemary A (eds.). The Endless Day: Some Case Material on Asian Rural Women. Oxford: Pergamon Press. 1981. Abdullah, Tahrunnesa and Zeidenstein, Sondra (eds.). Village Women of Bangladesh: Prospects for Change. Oxford: Pergamon Press. 1981. Singh, Andrea Menefee and Keiles-Viitanen, Anita (eds.). Invisible Hands: Women in Home-Based Production. Delhi: Sage Publications. 1987. Gulati, Leela. Profiles in Female Poverty: A Study of Five Poor Working Women in Kerala. Oxford: Pergamon Press. 1982. Esterline, Mae Handy (ed.). They Changed Their Worlds: Nine Women of Asia. Lanham: University Press of America. 1987. Dixon, Ruth. Rural Women at Work: Strategies for Development in South Asia. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. 1978. Omvedt, Gail. We Will Smash this Prison! Indian Women in Struggle. London: Zed Press. 1980. Shah, Nasra (ed.). Pakistani Women: Socioeconomic and Demographic Profile. Islamabad: Pakistan Institute of Development Economics and Hawaii: East-West Population Institute. 1986. Dozens of books on women in South Asia have come out since the middle of the '70s, the decade the United Nations declared as one for the study and the development of women's lives. The issues these studies have taken up cover a wide range; the depth and quality of analysis varies; the viewpoints differ in how the development process has affected women, © 1990 Journal of Women's History, Vol. 2 No. 1 (Spring) 1990 Book Reviews 201 the viewpoints differ in how the development process has affected women, as do the conclusions to which they lead. While much of this literature, and its strengths and weaknesses, are familiar to those specializing in Asian women in general, and South Asian women in particular, it probably is not to feminist scholars in the west and to the general public. With that in mind, I have decided to review a selection of books that not only represent, in my opinion, some of the best works on Asian women in a mixed context of tradition and change but also cover among them different perspectives, methodological approaches, and areas of focus, and indicate both the similarities and the differences in women's work, life conditions, concerns, and social movements within South Asia and between that region and much of the western world. I ended up with a selection of a dozen books that I have found to be among the most perceptive, relevant, analytically sound, and that, taken together, project a needed composite of multifaceted, multidisciplinary understanding of the complex realities. The authors are sociologists, economists, anthropologists, journalists, and social activists. Some books are theoretical, although empirically based, some economic-statistical, some anthropological, some personal profiles, and some on the women's movements that have emerged in South Asia. Let me start with the theoretical and ethnographic studies and move on to the personal profiles, then to the statistical, and, finally, to the studies of women's movements. Margery Wolf's analysis of the process of change in the balance of power over the female life cycle within an androcentric culture, although it is based on her study of 1960s rural Taiwan, holds nearly as well for much of rural South Asia. This is because at the heart of the syndrome she describes is patrilocal exogamy, the custom of girls being married off at a very early age and having to move into their husbands' extended families in a village and community away, often far away with available transportation , from thefr natal village and communities. This custom is just as prevalent, if not more so, in rural South Asia, particularly in north India, except for certain Muslim, tribal, and landless labor communities. Wolf's analysis is centered on what she calls the development of the "uterine f amily" as a reaction to, and...


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