Unearthing Gender is a compelling ethnographic analysis of folksongs sung primarily by lower-caste women in north India, in the fields, at weddings, during travels, and in other settings. Smita Tewari Jassal uses these songs to explore how ideas of caste, gender, sexuality, labor, and power may be strengthened, questioned, and fine-tuned through music. At the heart of the book is a library of songs, in their original Bhojpuri and in English translation, framed by Jassal's insights into the complexities of gender and power.The significance of these folksongs, Jassal argues, lies in their suggesting and hinting at themes, rather than directly addressing them: women sing what they often cannot talk about. Women's lives, their feelings, their relationships, and their social and familial bonds are persuasively presented in song. For the ethnographer, the songs offer an entry into the everyday cultures of marginalized groups of women who have rarely been the focus of systematic analytical inquiry.
Smita Tewari Jassal is Associate Professor Anthropology, Graduate School of Social Sciences at Middle East Technical University in Ankara, Turkey. She is the author of Daughters of the Earth: Women and Land in Uttar Pradesh and is coauthor of The Partition Motif In Contemporary Conflicts: Germany, India-Pakistan, Israel-Palestine.
Acknowledgments xi Note on Transliteration and Pronunciation xvii Introduction. The Unsung Sing 1 1. The Daily Grind 33 2. Singing Bargains 71 3. Biyah/Biraha: Emotions in a Rite of Passage 115 4. Sita's Trials 155 5. When War is Marriage 189 6. Taking Liberties 219 Conclusion. Taking Liberties 219 Notes 261 Glossary 271 Bibliography 277 Index 289