About the Book
Sita's Daughters vividly recounts the dramatic changes in role and status experienced by Rajput caste women in the Indian village Khalapur between 1955 and 1975. In the 20 years between her now-classic original field study and her follow-up with the same families, Leigh Minturn witnessed a significant decline in the women's observance of a complex system of customs collectively called purdah, which includes the wearing of veils, silence in the presence of senior men and women, the adoption of subservient postures when speaking to men, and the separation of husbands and wives. Her interviews with mothers- and daughters-in-law reveal how changes in purdah customs and religious traditions have allowed them increased access to education and health facilities, control of finances, and autonomy inside and mobility outside of their husbands' households. This work is unprecedented in its depth, scope, and exposition of the intimate details of the lives of Indian women. Minturn's return
to her original subjects allowed her to observe firsthand the changes that had transpired during the interim, resulting in the only Indian village field study to span two generations. Having won the trust and confidence of her subjects, the author poignantly conveys their individuality, along with their stories of heroism, loyalty, infidelity, rape, incest, theft, and even murder. With even-handedness and detailed scholarship, Minturn makes use of methods such as systematic sampling and structured interviewing that are effective in capturing the richness of Indian village life, though they are uncommon in anthropological studies. The wide range of issues addressed here will be of interest to students and researchers in women's studies, South Asian studies, anthropology, and cross-cultural psychology, as well as to interested laypersons.
About the Author:
Leigh Minturn is a professor of psychology at the University of Colorado, Boulder. She is co-author of two other books: Mothers of Six Cultures: Antecedents of Child Rearing (with W.W. Lambert, 1964) and The Rajputs of Khalapur, India (with J.T. Hitchcock, 1966).