Social Scientist had planned a special issue on gender, circulating a note that stressed the debate between classical Marxist theory and feminism.
The essays that arrived were both related and unrelated, and many are part of ongoing long term projects. However, so overwhelming has been the response that this series will cover six issues of the journal to be issued in three volumes. Some thematic separation has been made but the essays nevertheless overlap in their concerns especially in relation to reform, household, labour, communalism and the contemporary constitution of women's rights.
This volume is centred on household, family and labour. My own essay functions in part as an independent essay on labour (some of it was presented at a seminar at the HAS Shimla in 1992) and partly as a selective, introductory response to the question of labour as it occurs in these essays. It does not presume to elaborate on all the areas covered by the contributors.
Rajni Palriwala in 'Economics and Patriliny: Consumption and Authority within the Household' describes the impact of contemporary economic and political changes on traditional structures of kinship and gender in a village in Sikar district of Rajasthan.
Jayoti Cupta in 'Land, Dowry, Labour: Women in the Changing Economy of Midnapur' discusses the complexity of the factors entering into the land reforms in West Bengal that are contributing to an increase in dowry.
Prem Chowdhry in 'Persistence of a Custom: Cultural Centrality of Ghunghat' shows how ghunghat restricts the individuation of women regarding property and mediates familial relations and public life without diminishing their labour.
Vijaya Ramaswamy in 'Women and Farm Work in Tamil Folk Songs' discusses how far 'public' and the 'domestic' coalesce in the agricultural work songs collected from Tamilnadu region; these songs occupy a span of several centuries.
Uma Chakarvarty in 'Social Pariahs and Domestic Drudges:
Widowhood among Nineteenth Century Poona Brahmins' discusses the social situation and vulnerability of the upper caste widows in 19th c
Social Scientist, Vol. 21, Nos. 9-11, September-November 1993