This volume of Social Scientist is the second of the special series on gender. Though centred on prescription and reform, some of its concerns with the structure of the household and with domestic ideologies overlap with the previous volume. In 'Defining the Household: Some aspects of Prescription and Practice in Early India', Kumkum Roy analyses Medhatithi's reinterpretative commentary on the presriptive Manusmriti, in the altered locale of ninth century Kashmir, showing the contested nature of patrilineage, of prescriptions and of their social authority. Significantly, Medhatithi seems to create a mutable interface between description and injunction that underscores the historical contingency, malleability and changing contexts of the Manusmriti and its rules regarding caste exclusivity, the household and its resources, and expected forms of sociality.
The other essays, on Bengal, Punjab, Kerela and Bihar, concentrate on a more recent past, the nineteenth and early twentieth century. Sibaji Bandyopadhyay in 'Producing and Re-producing the New Woman: A Note on the Prefix "re"', explores the implications of the 'education* of women into reproduction in Bengal within a discursivity stretching from the 1840's to nearly the end of the century and concludes with a discussion of the transgressive potentials of Rassundari's Amar Jibon. Anshu Malhotra's '"Every Woman is a Mother in Embryo": Lala Lajpat Rai and Indian Womanhood* examines different phases in Lajpat Rai's writing on Hindu women, motherhood and the Aryan model in the context of women's growing involvement in the Arya Samaj in Punjab in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Meera Velayudhan's essay on early twentieth century Kerela/Changing Roles and Women's Narratives', distinguishing between the contours of reform among lower and higher caste women within emerging patriarchal, patrilineal structures, proceeds to examine the preoccupations and debates of the then contemporary Malayalam women's journals.
Papiya Ghosh in 'The Virile and The Chaste in Community and Nation Making: Bihar 1920's to 1940's' explores the connections between the aggressive campaign for shuddhi and sangathan by the Hindu Mahasabha with its strategic 'abductions' of women, the Muslim League's mirroring encashment of the same issue, and their
Social Scientist, Vol. 22, Nos. 1-2, January-February 1994