ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Articles by U KalpagamSubscribe to U Kalpagam

Marriage Norms, Choice and Aspirations of Rural Women

Marriage by choice is increasingly being cognised as a category between arranged marriage and love marriage without the constraint of caste. Based on an ethnographic fieldwork in a village in Allahabad district, this paper explores the aspirations of women and young girls to changes in marriage practices. It seeks to understand how patriarchy, customs and traditions operate in the form of social disciplines that constrain women's lives and how women perceive these social disciplines and attempt to carve out spaces of freedom. Most women and young girls however seek to access greater freedom in life through education and a move into urban areas while leaving the parental responsibility of arranging marriages intact.

Secularism, Religiosity and Popular Culture

This paper is an ethnographic essay dealing with various facets of religiosity, urban communities and roadside temples even as it raises larger issues on the secularisation of Indian society. Its central argument is that the notion of "multiple modernities" may provide a framework to understand the flourish of contemporary religiosity as it accords a role to tradition in the shaping of the modernisation process. In the specific context of Hindu communities, the sanskritisation process works conjointly with the secularisation process. The paper also suggests some possibility for rethinking the notion of popular culture as well.

Perspectives for a Grassroots Feminist Theory

While the influence of western social theory has been palpable in the way social sciences, including women's studies, have been conceptualised and taught in India, it has also provoked a justifiably defensive reaction in certain instances. Theories and paradigms from the west may prove completely alienated from actual experiences of women at the grassroots. This criticism has often taken on an anti-west culture bashing, a growing tendency to question the 'Indian-ness' of the women's movement here or has led to ineffectual attempts to develop an alternative perspective based wholly on indigenous categories of thought. This paper is an attempt to analyse the presuppositions that define the need for a 'grassroots feminist theory'.

Shankaracharyas and Academics

I agree that these days the institutional space of social science research has changed considerably and not all may be aware of all the changes.

Debunking Malthusianism

U Kalpagam Women, Population and Global Crisis by Asoka Bandarage; Zed Books, London and New Jersey; pp xii+397, price (not stated).
THE book under review is full of unforgettable facts, Did you know that an ordinary bicycle pump was used in a sterilisation camp in Rajasthan to pump air into women's bodies? If this is amusing, here is some more: One P V Mehta has entered the Guinness Book of World Records for sterilising more than 3,50,000 women in one decade. Speed doctors' perform 300- 500 female laparoscopic sterilisations in 10 hours in a single day. These amusing details don't read amusing at all when read in the context of a political-economic analysis of population and the global crisis, which is what Bandarage does with both passion and rigour. Although the book is largely addressed to readers in the north, it in no way detracts from its usefiilness to the world at large. The basic thesis that Bandarage attempts to expose for its fallacies is the contemporary neo-Malthusian thinking on population, which by attempting to posita simple-minded relationship between population and resources, attributes the poverty of the 'majority world' to the size of their population. For Bandarage, neo-Malthusianism is a social philosophy that attributes population growth as the root cause of all social problems such as global environmental destruction, poverty, hunger, political instability and violence; and which therefore identifies population control as the solution to all the problems. In her view, neo- Malthusian thinking is not a phenomenon restricted to the dominant world institutions such as the US goventment, the World Bank and the United Nations system, but one which liberal social change movements such as the environmental movement and the feminist movements in the north are subscribing to as well. Most governnjents of the south as well as the NGOs of the south also seem to have accepted the position of neo-Malthusianism as imported from the north, thus targeting the bodies of poor women of colour and undermining the health and well-being of poor women and their children, Adopting the feminist tenets of individual choice in reproductive issues, neo- Malthusianism has even appropriated the discourse of women's reproductive rights. Adopting an instrumentalist approach to women's rights as highlighted by the Pro- gramme of of Action adopted in Cairo in 1994 at the International Conference on Population and Development, neo-Malthusian frameworks neglect the social structural roots of women's subordination, The author's position is that Malthusianism is funda- mentally flawed in both its theory and its practice, Both the anti-natalist Malthusian perspective as well as the pro-natalist reli- gious fundamentalism restrict women's reproductive' self-determination. A truly feminist analysis of reproductive freedom can only be built upon "a broader political economic analysis of the global crisis and an ethic of human caring and nurturance which simultaneously empowers women, their families and communities".

Machine Politics, Slum Policies and Survival

'Machine Politics', Slum Policies and Survival U Kalpagam Poverty, Policy and Politics in Madras Slums: Dynamics of Survival, Gender and Leadership by Joop W de Wit; Sage Publications, New Delhi, 1996; pp 305,

Colonialism, Rational Calculations and Idea of the Economy

of the 'Economy' U Kalpagam This article traces the genealogy of the 'Indian economy'. It argues that the discursive practices of colonial governance rendered India within the framework of modernist knowledge. The collection of statistics was crucial to the regulatory practices of governance based as they were on a new kind of political rationality. The discourse of the 'Indian economy' is thus traced to the disciplinarity of accounting.

Towards a Doctrinal Synthesis

Towards a Doctrinal Synthesis U Kalpagam Property and Prices: Towards a Unified Theory of Value by Andre Burgstaller; Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1994.

Cartography in Colonial India

This article examines some aspects of surveying and mapping in 19th century colonial India. It shows that the emergence of modern cartographic representation in India is intimately linked to the colonial project of conquest, rule and administration. After examining the early mapping efforts in the later half of the 18th century, the paper then focuses on the three major surveys the topographical, the trignometrical and the revenue surveys that were carried out, and which were all crucial to mapping India.

Dominating Knowledges and Subjugated Practices

Dominating Knowledges and Subjugated Practices U Kalpagam Dominating Knowledge; Development, Culture and Resistance edited by Frederique Apffel Marglin and Stephen A Marglin; Clarendon Press, Oxford,


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