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The Historical Roots of Dowries in Contemporary Kerala

Lindberg, Anna LU (2014) In South Asia 37(1). p.22-42
Abstract
Dowry payments from the family of the bride to that of the groom were rarely encountered in Kerala during the early twentieth century, but now are almost universal. Based on an examination of historical documents, including legislative debates, court cases, and reports, the way dowry was explained in the past is compared with the results of 200 contemporary interviews to determine its current rationale. Nowadays, making an obligatory payment for the maintenance of a wife, adherence to a social norm, and guaranteeing a woman's good treatment have displaced earlier arguments related to inheritance, status in the social hierarchy, or a woman's ability to provide for herself. Although several blurred traditions have been cited to account for... (More)
Dowry payments from the family of the bride to that of the groom were rarely encountered in Kerala during the early twentieth century, but now are almost universal. Based on an examination of historical documents, including legislative debates, court cases, and reports, the way dowry was explained in the past is compared with the results of 200 contemporary interviews to determine its current rationale. Nowadays, making an obligatory payment for the maintenance of a wife, adherence to a social norm, and guaranteeing a woman's good treatment have displaced earlier arguments related to inheritance, status in the social hierarchy, or a woman's ability to provide for herself. Although several blurred traditions have been cited to account for dowries, they seem to have flourished in times of social inequity and uncertainty: the 1930s, 1970s, and 1990s. The emphasis on patriarchal nuclear families has created a mentality that a woman must pay for the privilege of being married and living securely. (Less)
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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
Kerala, Dowry, marriage, women, gender
in
South Asia
volume
37
issue
1
pages
22 - 42
publisher
Taylor & Francis
external identifiers
  • wos:000334072200003
  • scopus:84897415278
ISSN
0085-6401
DOI
10.1080/00856401.2013.851017
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
facea7fa-5def-4337-ba5d-1506731aef2c (old id 4439454)
date added to LUP
2014-05-20 13:28:19
date last changed
2017-01-01 06:25:06
@article{facea7fa-5def-4337-ba5d-1506731aef2c,
  abstract     = {Dowry payments from the family of the bride to that of the groom were rarely encountered in Kerala during the early twentieth century, but now are almost universal. Based on an examination of historical documents, including legislative debates, court cases, and reports, the way dowry was explained in the past is compared with the results of 200 contemporary interviews to determine its current rationale. Nowadays, making an obligatory payment for the maintenance of a wife, adherence to a social norm, and guaranteeing a woman's good treatment have displaced earlier arguments related to inheritance, status in the social hierarchy, or a woman's ability to provide for herself. Although several blurred traditions have been cited to account for dowries, they seem to have flourished in times of social inequity and uncertainty: the 1930s, 1970s, and 1990s. The emphasis on patriarchal nuclear families has created a mentality that a woman must pay for the privilege of being married and living securely.},
  author       = {Lindberg, Anna},
  issn         = {0085-6401},
  keyword      = {Kerala,Dowry,marriage,women,gender},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {1},
  pages        = {22--42},
  publisher    = {Taylor & Francis},
  series       = {South Asia},
  title        = {The Historical Roots of Dowries in Contemporary Kerala},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00856401.2013.851017},
  volume       = {37},
  year         = {2014},
}