Images of Women in Maharashtrian Society

Edited by Anne Feldhaus

Subjects: Third World Studies
Paperback : 9780791436608, 286 pages, January 1998
Hardcover : 9780791436592, 286 pages, January 1998

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Table of contents



I. Women in Eighteenth-Century Maharashtra

1. Family Disputes, Family Violence: Reconstructing Women's Experience from Eighteenth-Century Historical Records
Anne B. Waters

2. Women in the Kotwal's Papers, Pune, 1767-1791
N. K. Wagle

3. The Dancing Girls of Maharashtra
V. S. Kadam

II. The Nineteenth-Century Debate: Conservatism and Reform

4. The Status and Image of Women in Nineteenth-Century Maharashtra: Vishnubawa Brahmachari's Views in the Context of Hindu Revival
Frank F. Conlon

5. Sexual Property/Sexual Violence: Wives in Late Nineteenth-Century Bombay
Jim Masselos

6. Child Brides and Child Mothers: The Age of Consent Controversy in Maharashtra as a Conflict of Perspectives on Women
Meera Kosambi

7. Gender Consciousness in Mid-Nineteenth-Century Maharashtra
Jayant Lele

8. Pandita Ramabai's Stri-Dharma Niti and Tarabai Shinde's Stri-Purus Tulana: The Inner Unity of the Texts
Vidyut Bhagwat

III. Some Contemporary Images

9. Women as Bullocks: A Self-Image of Maharashtrian Village Women
Sharon F. Kemp

10. Images of Women in a Maharashtrian Village: A Photo Essay
Hemalata C. Dandekar

11. Sharda: A Mahar Woman's Path to Selfhood
Maxine Berntsen

12. A Bibliographic Essay on Women in Maharashtra
Eleanor Zelliot

About the Contributors


Explores the conditions of women's lives in the modern state and traditional region of Maharashtra.


This volume, a companion to Images of Women in Maharashtrian Literature and Religion (SUNY Press, 1996), approaches more closely the realities of women's lives. Using historical documents from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and photographs, interviews, and conversations from the twentieth, the book constructs images of the conditions of women's lives in the modern state and traditional region of Maharashtra over the past three hundred years. The authors search for the ideas, understandings, and judgments that have shaped those conditions, for the conscious and unconscious images that have made women's lives what they have been.

The contributors examine ways femininity and the power, status, and potential of women have been viewed; actual women emphasizing ideas about women. Understanding ideas of this kind is a necessary first step toward understanding, and perhaps eventually affecting, the actualities of women's lives.

This book is divided into three parts. Part I is based on documentary sources from the eighteenth century. Part II explores the subjects and terms of the conservatism versus reform debate in Maharashtra, and thus complements recent studies on images of women in Bengal and other parts of North India during the colonial period. Part III, which presents contemporary images of women in Maharashtra, includes an examination of village women's work, a photo essay, an oral life history, and a bibliographical essay.

Anne Feldhaus is Professor of Religious Studies at Arizona State University. She has published several books, including Water and Womanhood: Religious Meanings of Rivers in Maharashtra.


"Maharashtrian leaders have had an especially important influence in shaping the contemporary fate of women. A number of early social reformers were based here, as were important leaders of the reaction that derailed India's first 'female emancipation' movement. This book offers very rich materials on this movement and reaction, as well as additional valuable insights into Maharashtrian women's own perspectives and lives. " -- Nancy Auer Falk, Western Michigan University