Shifting Ground and Cultural Bodies addresses questions about the interrelationship of cultural practices, social relations, and gender through three studies of rural villages and two urban situations in Africa and India. The contributors point out that by looking at gender, one can see the intersection of the global and the local, the persistent and the passing, and the interplay of past and present. They focus on how gender is constructed in particular places, how gender relations are established through "local hierarchies," how gender is expressed, and how this construction is contested and negotiated. The contributors argue that there is a deep cultural logic that allows people to creatively challenge, change, and reconstruct their social relations. They point out zones of tension between men and women, and discuss how people respond to these issues. While there is a long-term cultural logic at work that influences how people think about this subject, the people studied show that they are as modern as any other culture and not locked into an inflexible tradition. These recent studies in postcolonial nations provide new information on the interrelationships of cultural practices, social relations, and gender.
Karen Armstrong is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Helsinki, Finland.
chapter 1 Introduction chapter 2 Gender Relations in Rural Kilimanjaro: Embodiment and Moral Space chapter 3 Ambiguous Followings: Tracing Autonomy in Pastoral Fulbe Society chapter 4 "The Woman in the Body": Spirits and Spouses in Zanzibar Town chapter 5 Women's Hidden Work and Agency in Calcutta chapter 6 The Politics and Rhetorics of Virginity and Motherhood: Defining Moral Value in Kilimanjaro, Tanzania chapter 7 Index