The gift of money: rearticulating tradition and market economy in rural West Bengal

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This article examines the rise of dowry system in Janta, a West Bengali village in the Bankura district, where the dowry payments are a relatively new phenomenon. The oldest generation in Janta had experienced times when no demands for money or other gifts had been made during marriage arrangements, but since the 1950s huge dowry payments have become the central financial transactions in the region. In addition to oral history interviews on dowry practices, I draw from my research on the changes in caste, gender and class relationships in the village. T argue that the dowry payments do not merely represent economic considerations in a class conscious society, but that they reflect a rearticulation of both the tradition and market, of gender, ritual, and class identities, and that paying attention to the multiplicity and local variation of dowry practices provides a key to its Understanding.
Original languageEnglish
JournalModern Asian Studies
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)1035-1055
Number of pages21
Publication statusPublished - 2008
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 514 Sociology
  • lahjat
  • myötäjäiset
  • perinne

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