Srimati Basu

Professor, Gender and Women's Studies / Anthropology
University of Kentucky, U.S.A.

"The Trouble is Marriage: The Afterlife of Feminist Legal Reform in India"
Through an analysis of laws relating to marriage, property and violence, this talk explores the gains and fallouts of feminist legal reform projects, in particular the contradictions of central norms of vulnerability and protection and the problems these pose for our understandings of gender. It considers the contemporary nature of kinship through a portrait of contemporary marriage in Kolkata, India, based on complaints brought to courts and counselors. New forms of kinship are created in court, even as the breakdown of kinship systems is diagnosed. Tension prevails between discourses of the patrilocal joint family and modern companionate marriage, a conflict over space, resources and affective beneficence. I will focus in particular on two forms of gendered embodiment in legal claims which express the conflict over generational distribution of resources: the disabled mind (or putative mental illness) of women, and the able body (or the potential earning capacity) of men.

Srimati Basu is Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies and Anthropology at the University of Kentucky, writing and teaching on social movements, property, law, marriage, intimacy, violence and popular culture. She is the author of the monographs The Trouble with Marriage: Feminists Confront Law and Violence in India (University of California Press, 2015) and She Comes to Take Her Rights: Indian Women, Property and Propriety (SUNY Press, 1999), has edited the Dowry and Inheritance volume in the Women Unlimited series Issues in Indian Feminism (2005), and co-edited (with Lucinda Ramberg) the anthology Conjugality Unbound: Sexual Economy and the Marital Form in India (Women Unlimited, 2014). She participated recently in the UN Expert Group Meeting on "Family policy development: achievements and challenges."