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Domestic Goddesses Maternity, globalization and middle-class identity in contemporary India

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Henrike Donner|
Ashgate (September 2008)

Domestic Goddesses: Maternity, globalization and middle-class identity in contemporary IndiaBased on extensive fieldwork in Calcutta, this book provides the first ethnography of how middle-class women in India understand and experience economic change through transformations of family life. It explores their ideas, practices and experiences of marriage, childbirth, reproductive change and their children's education, and addresses the impact that globalization is having on the new middle classes in Asia more generally from a domestic perspective.

By focusing on maternity, the book explores subjective understandings of the way intimate relationships and the family are affected by India's liberalization policies and the neo-liberal ideologies that accompany through an analysis of often competing ideologies and multiple practices. And by drawing attention to women's agency as wives, mothers and grandmothers within these new frameworks, Domestic Goddesses discusses the experiences of different age groups affected by these changes. Through a careful analysis of women's narratives, the domestic sphere is shown to represent the key site for the remaking of Indian middle-class citizens in a global world.

Dr Henrike Donner is a lecturer in Anthropology at LSE.

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'An original and ethnographically rich study of the urban family and of the roles women play as wives, mothers and home-makers in the creation and reproduction of a new Indian middle-class identity. It makes a significant contribution to current anthropological discussions of how kinship and marriage systems in developing societies are impacted by globalization and the rise of consumer-oriented economies.'
Sylvia Vatuk, University of Illinois, Chicago, USA

'Domestic Goddesses is an informed and sensitive account of the intimate lives and concerns of middle class women as they negotiate modernity in Calcutta today. Donner's work on the "gendered city" makes an important contribution to the urban anthropology of South Asia and to understandings of motherhood as shaped by it.'
Maya Unnithan, University of Sussex, UK