Review of Unearthing Gender: Folksongs of North India by Smita Tewari Jassal

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    Abstract

    In the course of researching gender and land rights in North India, Smita Tiwari Jassal's discussions with groups of village women often devolved into long, energetic song sessions. When singing together, even women otherwise reluctant to speak were able to express the complexities of their relation to land ownership and to their employers in the fields. Through poetic narratives, they also sang about a range of women's experiences across castes: of patrilineal inheritance, village exogamy, male migration, and the temptations of itinerant men. These songs provided the impetus for this book. Through the next five years, between 1997 and 2003, Jassal returned for multiple visits to the countryside between northeast Uttar Pradesh and western Bihar. Her book on women and land was published in 2001 but she continued to document musical life in these villages, extending her inquiry to male genres too. Since her father was from this region Jassal's informants perceived her research as a way of honoring her father's memory and reclaiming her own heritage.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalJournal of Folklore Research
    Publication statusPublished - 2015

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