As America tried to absorb the shock of the 9/11 attacks, Muslim Americans were caught up in an unprecedented wave of backlash violence. Public discussion revealed that widespread misunderstanding and misrepresentation of Islam persisted, despite the striking diversity of the Muslim community. Letting the voices of 140 ordinary Muslim American men and women describe their experiences, Lori Peek’s path-breaking book, Behind the Backlash, presents moving accounts of prejudice and exclusion. Muslims speak of being subjected to harassment before the attacks, and recount the discrimination they encountered afterwards. Peek also explains the struggles of young Muslim adults to solidify their community and define their identity during a time of national crisis. Behind the Backlash seeks to explain why blame and scape-goating occur after a catastrophe. Peek sets the twenty-first century experience of Muslim Americans, who were vilified and victimized, in the context of larger sociological and psychological processes.
One of the only ethnographic studies of Dalit women, this book gives a rich account of individual Dalit women’s lives and documents a rise in patriarchy in the community. The author argues that as Dalits’ economic and political position improves, ‘honour’ becomes crucial to social status. One of the ways Dalits accrue honour is by altering patterns of women’s work, education and marriage and by adopting dominant caste gender practices. But Dalits are not simply becoming more like the upper catstes; they are simultaneously asserting a distinct, politicised Dalit identity, formed in directb opposition to the dominant castes. They are developing their own ‘politics of culture’.
Key to both, the author argues, is the ‘respectability’ of women. This has significant effects on gender equality in the Dalit community.
Education, Unemployment and Masculinities in India re-evaluates debates on education, modernity, and social change in contemporary development studies and anthropology. Education is widely imputed with the capacity to transform the prospects of the poor. But in the context of widespread unemployment in rural north India, it is better understood as a contradictory resource, providing marginalized youth with certain freedoms but also drawing them more tightly into systems of inequality.
The book advances this argument through detailed case studies of educated but unemployed or underemployed young men in rural western Uttar Pradesh. This book draws on fourteen months’ ethnographic research with young men from middle caste Hindu, Muslim, and ex-Untouchable backgrounds. In addition to offering a new perspective on how education affects the rural poor in South Asia, Education, Unemployment and Masculinities in India includes in-depth reflection on the politics of modernity, changing rural masculinities, and caste and communal politics.
The book presents an analysis of contemporary labour politics in India’s informal economy. Following increased integration in global economic networks, India’s informal sectors, in some parts of the country, have expanded drastically over recent decades and are employing an increasing number of the country’s working population.
Drawing on detailed ethnographic accounts of three textile industries in Tamil Nadu, collected during two and a half years of fieldwork between 1995 and 2000, the author describes everyday labour activism, explores the character of trade unionism and individualized forms of resistance, and depicts the political culture of the shop floor. Interesting case studies illustrate how labour politics have been shaped both by the social mobility of some communities and the increased feminization of some occupations.
Dipankar Gupta brings together social theory with policy practice to enlarge our understanding of the difference that democracy makes to the life of a nation. Unlike nationalism, democracy takes our attention away from the past to the future by focusing on the specific concerns of ‘citizenship’. Historical victories or defeats, blood and soil are now nowhere as relevant as the creation of a foundational base where individuals have equal, and quality, access to health, education, and even urban services. The primary consideration, therefore, is on empowering ‘citizens’ as a common category and not ‘people’ of any specific community or class. When citizens precede all other considerations, the notion of the ‘public’ too gets its fullest expression. Differences between citizens are not denied, in fact encouraged, but only after achieving a basic unity first. This book argues that the call of citizenship not only advances democracy, but social science as well.
Globalization is a controversial subject. While some argue that it promotes economic growth that translates into social progress, others believe that it is detrimental to social advancement. There is a broad consensus in the international community that all states should be urged to improve their social conditions, a position most strongly articulated in the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) declaration of the United Nations.
Globalization and the Millennium Development Goals brings together conceptual and empirical insights into the interaction of globalization and the social sectors, focusing especially on the MDGs. Some of the papers included here explicitly look at the Indian experience with social progress in the context of globalization. The volume with introductory remarks by Meghnad Desai, reflects the multifarious views regarding the interplay between economic development and social progress and attempts to answer the question: Can globalization have a human face?
‘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 the two villages of Dumka district, Jharkhand. From the very beginning, adivasi women come alive through separate life histories.
They span different situations and social patterns but all of them relate to rights in landed property, and their own troubled identities in the backdrop of harsh living conditions, social discrimination and lack of state support. Land for the Santal women is not a mere economic resource. It stands for security, social position and identity, and in this men have a distinct advantage. Soon after, writing in a personal vein, the author unfolds how these anxieties of the Santal women resonate her own.
The author traces the relationship between Santals and their land from historic times to the modern era when they have access to both the modern legal system and their own customary laws. She also examines the role of external agencies in this struggle— government administrative bodies, non-governmental organizations and political leaders. As modern influences crowd out traditional mores the author asserts that development is not always a benign process of social advancement but a highly political struggle for re-negotiating power relations between men and women, and among social groups. 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.
The book emphasizes the need to go beyond the conventional definition of poverty and look at the various human aspects of the problem. Eminent social scientists study poverty in its wider sense, in the light of the latest data available for India.
Marriage, Love, Caste and Kinship Support: Lived Experiences of the Urban Poor in India makes use of interesting case studies and photographs to describe the everyday life in a squatter settlement in Delhi.
The book helps to understand the marital experiences of these people most of whom belong to the Scheduled Caste and live in one identified geographical space. The author describes the shifts within their marriages, remarriages and other kinds of unions and their striking diversities, which have been described with care. Shalini Grover also examines the close ties of married women with their mothers and natal families.
An important contribution of the book lies in the unfolding of the role of women-led informal courts, Mahila Panchayats, and their influence in conflict resolution. This takes place in a distinctly different mode of community-based arbitration against the backdrop of mainstream legal structures and male-dominated caste associations.
The book will be of interest to students of sociology and social anthropology, gender studies, development studies, law and psychology. Activists and family counsellors will also find the book useful.