Sita's Daughters: Coming Out of Purdah

Sita's Daughters: Coming Out of Purdah : The Rajput Women of Khalapur Revisited

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Sita's Daughters vividly recounts the dramatic changes in role and status experienced by Rajput caste women in the Indian village Khalapur between 1955 and 1975. In the 20 years between her now-classic original field study and her follow-up with the same families, Leigh Minturn witnessed a significant decline in the women's observance of a complex system of customs collectively called purdah, which includes the wearing of veils, silence in the presence of senior men and women, the adoption of subservient postures when speaking to men, and the separation of husbands and wives. Her interviews with mothers- and daughters-in-law reveal how changes in purdah customs and religious traditions have allowed them increased access to education and health facilities, control of finances, and autonomy inside and mobility outside of their husbands' households. This work is unprecedented in its depth, scope, and exposition of the intimate details of the lives of Indian women. Minturn's return to her original subjects allowed her to observe firsthand the changes that had transpired during the interim, resulting in the only Indian village field study to span two generations. Having won the trust and confidence of her subjects, the author poignantly conveys their individuality, along with their stories of heroism, loyalty, infidelity, rape, incest, theft, and even murder. With even-handedness and detailed scholarship, Minturn makes use of methods such as systematic sampling and structured interviewing that are effective in capturing the richness of Indian village life, though they are uncommon in anthropological studies. The wide range of issues addressed here will be of interest to students and researchers in women's studies, South Asian studies, anthropology, and cross-cultural psychology, as well as to interested laypersons.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 384 pages
  • 155.2 x 234.2 x 25.9mm | 607.13g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • New.
  • halftones, line figures, tables
  • 0195080351
  • 9780195080353

About Leigh Minturn

Leigh Minturn is a professor of psychology at the University of Colorado, Boulder. She is co-author of two other books: Mothers of Six Cultures: Antecedents of Child Rearing (with W.W. Lambert, 1964) and The Rajputs of Khalapur, India (with J.T. Hitchcock, 1966).show more

Back cover copy

Sita's Daughters vividly recounts the dramatic changes in role and status experienced by Rhajput cast women in the Indian village of Khalapur between 1955 and 1975. In the 20 years between her now-classic original field study and her follow-up with the same families, Leigh Minturn witnessed a significant decline in the women's observance of a complex system of customs collectively called purdah, which includes the wearing of veils, silence in the presence of senior men and women, the adoption of subservient postures when speaking to men, and the separation of husbands and wives. This work is unprecedented in its depth, scope, and exposition of the intimate details of the lives of Indian women.show more

Review quote

`an admirable study of the effect of time and economic progress on some of India's most traditionally backward women ... What makes Sita's daughters such an excellent and fascinating book are the anthropological descriptions of life then and now; descriptions free from the jargon so dear to American scholars, Under Dr Minturn's pen, the Rejputs of Khalapur come to life' Asian Affairsshow more

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