Contentious Marriages, Eloping Couples: Gender, Caste, and Patriarchy in Northern India

Paperback | July 1, 2009

byPrem Chowdhry

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This book deals with the widespread phenomenon of contentious marriages and elopements in rural and semi-urban north India, specifically in the state of Haryana. Such challenges to norms and customs have escalated in recent times, and have become more complex due to the changing dynamics ofpower between, and within, caste groups. As the runaway couples question the authority of family, caste, and community, the traditional powers have become more dictatorial and often reacted with violence. The study shows how the colonial order strengthened caste endogamy and posed a serious challenge to inter-caste marriage. It also focuses on the intervention of the caste panchayats, and seeks to explain both how and why these patriarchal bodies wield extra-judicial power despite post-colonialchanges in law and polity. Further, the book demonstrates how the state colludes with the traditional forces to de-legitimize attempts to break out of the traditional system, thus often overriding the legal rights and human rights of individuals. The volume also discusses the implications of theHindu Succession Act of 1956 for women. It also shows how the emergence of a restricted marriage market, skewed sex ratio, an escalating dowry economy, and extensive unemployment have created a crisis of masculinity, power, and domination. The book takes an inter-disciplinary approach and draws insights from sociology, gender studies, history, popular culture, politics, and law towards understanding the concepts of caste, community, and honour in contemporary Indian society. It is based on extensive fieldwork, interviews, official andlegal documents, and archival material. It will be of interest to scholars of sociology, history, popular culture, politics, law, and gender studies.

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This book deals with the widespread phenomenon of contentious marriages and elopements in rural and semi-urban north India, specifically in the state of Haryana. Such challenges to norms and customs have escalated in recent times, and have become more complex due to the changing dynamics ofpower between, and within, caste groups. As th...

Prem Chowdhry is an independent researcher and Former Fellow of the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library in New Delhi.

other books by Prem Chowdhry

Format:PaperbackDimensions:360 pages, 8.46 × 5.51 × 0.01 inPublished:July 1, 2009Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:019806361X

ISBN - 13:9780198063612

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Table of Contents

AcknowledgementsIntroduction1. Colonial period: Creeping Rigidity2. Post-colonial Haryana: Caste Endogamy and Traditional Panchayats3. Inter-Caste Marriages: Defying Cultural Norms4. Cases of Runaway Marriage: State Intervention5. Controlling Remarriage: Post-Colonial Strengthening of the Levirate6. Understanding Local Perceptions: Caste Stereotypes and Cultural Explanations7. Social Factors: Political Economy of Contentious MarriagesEpilogue: Complexities and ConcernsGlossaryBibliographyIndex