Legally Dispossessed: Gender, Identity and the Process of Law
demy octavo hb 246pp ISBN 81-85604-39-8 Rs 180 Feb 1998
This path-breaking study of women’s experience of litigation under personal laws (those that cover marriage and inheritance) raises vital questions of identity and citizenship in India and throws new light on the uniform civil code debate. The author asks why is it so difficult to disentangle woman ‘as subject/citizen imbued with rights from that of being a daughter, sister, wife, widow and the symbol of a community?’ Why is it that both Hindu and Muslim women are usually unsuccessful in their claims for property despite appealing to different personal laws?
By shifting focus from the text of the law to an ethnography of litigation, the nature of disputes, the attitudes of lawyers, the experiences in court, the logic of judgments, and so on, the analysis brings into play the crucial factors that are obscured in abstract discussions of ‘rights’.
Maitrayee Mukhopadhyay received her Ph.D. from the School of African and Asian Studies at the University of Sussex. She is currently working at the Royal Tropical Institute, Amsterdam.
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