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Marriage and Modernity: Family Values in Colonial Bengal

Majumdar, Rochona

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ISBN 10: 0822344629 / ISBN 13: 9780822344629
Published by Duke University Press Books
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This cultural history of the evolution of modern marriage practices in colonial Bengal shows that arranged marriage as it is practiced today is a modern practice from the colonial era. Num Pages: 360 pages, 42 photographs, 2 tables. BIC Classification: 1FKA; 1FKB; HBTB; JHBK. Category: (U) Tertiary Education (US: College). . . 2009. Hardcover. . . . . Bookseller Inventory # V9780822344629

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Title: Marriage and Modernity: Family Values in ...

Publisher: Duke University Press Books

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition: New

About this title


An innovative cultural history of the evolution of modern marriage practices in Bengal, Marriage and Modernity challenges the assumption that arranged marriage is an antiquated practice. Rochona Majumdar demonstrates that in the late colonial period Bengali marriage practices underwent changes that led to a valorization of the larger, intergenerational family as a revered, “ancient” social institution, with arranged marriage as the apotheosis of an “Indian” tradition. She meticulously documents the ways that these newly embraced “traditions”—the extended family and arranged marriage—entered into competition and conversation with other emerging forms of kinship such as the modern unit of the couple, with both models participating promiscuously in the new “marketplace” for marriages, where matrimonial advertisements in the print media and the payment of dowry played central roles. Majumdar argues that together the kinship structures newly asserted as distinctively Indian and the emergence of the marriage market constituted what was and still is modern about marriages in India.

Majumdar examines three broad developments related to the modernity of arranged marriage: the growth of a marriage market, concomitant debates about consumption and vulgarity in the conduct of weddings, and the legal regulation of family property and marriages. Drawing on matrimonial advertisements, wedding invitations, poems, photographs, legal debates, and a vast periodical literature, she shows that the modernization of families does not necessarily imply a transition from extended kinship to nuclear family structures, or from matrimonial agreements negotiated between families to marriage contracts between individuals. Colonial Bengal tells a very different story.

From the Back Cover:

"Rochona Majumdar's provocative argument about Bengali arranged marriages as a sign of the colonial modern in India will generate both widespread interest and debate. This fresh and sparkling account of arranged marriages--constructed, in large part, on the basis of a richly rewarding archive made up of wedding invitations, menu cards, jewelry catalogues, and family photographs--succeeds at an important level; that is, in giving arranged marriages a history. No longer do these marriages appear only in their incarnation as markers of cultural tradition; rather, arranged marriages come to represent a complex field of social practices that are shaped by the tensions and contradictions of particular contexts. "Marriage and Modernity" is the kind of ambitious and imaginative book that will speak to multiple constituencies."--Mrinalini Sinha, author of "Specters of Mother India: The Global Restructuring of an Empire"

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