Gender and Story in South India

Edited by Leela Prasad, Ruth B. Bottigheimer, Lalita Handoo

Indian women scholars present and discuss tales about women, bringing new insights about gender and the moral universe of the folk narrative.

Gender and Story in South India presents exciting ethnographic research by Indian women scholars on Hindu and Muslim women-centered oral narratives. The book is unique for its geographic and linguistic focus on South India, for its inclusion of urban and rural locales of narration, and for its exploration of shared Hindu and Muslim female space. Drawing on the worldviews of South Indian female narrators in both everyday and performative settings, the contributors lead readers away from customary and comfortable assumptions about gender distinctions in India to experience a more dialogical, poetically ordered moral universe that is sensitive to women’s material and spiritual lives.

“…the volume is an important contribution to the study of South Asian folklore and women’s expressive practices. It certainly reinforces Ramanujan’s insights about women-centered stories, while offering very specific exemplars thereof. The volume is also important for highlighting the work of Indian women scholars working within their own and neighboring women’s traditions.” — Asian Folklore Studies

“Women’s expressive traditions remain understudied even after decades of feminist influence; this is partly because of the greater difficulties of research and translation they may pose. This book, with its offerings from South Asian female folklorists, makes a particular and significant contribution in this area.” — Ann Grodzins Gold, coauthor of Listen to the Heron’s Words: Reimagining Gender and Kinship in North India

Contributors include Ruth B. Bottigheimer, P. S. Kanaka Durga, Lalita Handoo, K. V. S. Lakshmi Narasamamba, Leela Prasad, and Saraswathi Venugopal.

Leela Prasad is Assistant Professor of Ethics and Indian Religions at Duke University. Ruth B. Bottigheimer teaches Comparative Literature at Stony Brook University, State University of New York, and is the author of several books, including Fairy Godfather: Straparola, Venice, and the Fairy Tale Tradition. Lalita Handoo is Associate Professor of Lexicography and Folklore at the Central Institute of Indian Languages in Mysore, India, and is the author of several books, including Structural Analysis of Kashmiri Folktales.

Illustrations depicting story/history events in India, in yellow wash