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Casting Religion and Sexing Gender in South India

April 18, 2016 @ 3:30 pm - 5:00 pm

Lecture presented by Lucinda Ramburg, Associate Professor of Anthropology and Feminist, Sexuality and Gender Studies at Cornell.

How are the politics of caste, gender, religion and sexuality entangled in contemporary India?  How are they inhabited by Dalit women?  This talk draws on ethnographic research conducted in Karnataka, South India to consider these questions. In particular, it focuses on three women: a pujari of the Devi Yellamma —a jogati or devadasi; a self-described ‘housewife’ who follows both Hinduism and Buddhism; and a college going convert to Buddhism who leads prayers for young women in her room in the ladies hostel.  By dwelling on three key themes within anti-caste feminist studies—epistemology (standpoint), mobility, and sexuality—this talk argues for more nuanced conceptualization of importance of religiosity, the question of agency, and the force of heteronormativity in the field of gender and caste studies.

Lucinda Ramberg is Assistant Professor of Feminist, Gender and Sexuality Studies, and Assistant Professor of Anthropology, at Cornell University. . Her 2014 book, Given to the Goddess: South Indian Devadasis and the Sexuality of Religion (Duke University Press, 2014), won multiple national book prizes in 2015 including the Clifford Geertz Prize for best book in the anthropology of religion, the inaugural Michelle Rosaldo Prize for a first book in Feminist Anthropology, and the Ruth Benedict prize from the Association of Queer Anthropology. Ramberg’s other publications include:

  • Conjugality and Beyond: Sexual Economy, State Regulation and the Marital Form in India, edited with Srimati Basu (Women Unlimited Press, 2015).
  • “Clinical Encounters and Citizenship Projects” Medical Anthropology: Cross Cultural Studies in Health and Illness, November 2014, Vol. 33 (6).
  • “Troubling Kinship: Sacred Marriage and Gender Configuration in South India” American Ethnologist, November 2013, Vol. 40 (4).
  •  “When the Devi is Your Husband: Sacred Marriage and Sexual Economy in South India” Feminist
    Studies, Spring 2011, Vol. 37 (1)


April 18, 2016
3:30 pm - 5:00 pm
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FedEx Global Education Center, Room 1009
301 Pittsboro St.
Chapel Hill, NC 27599 United States
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The Carolina Asia Center supports diverse Asia-related events. However, CAC co-sponsorship of any talk, seminar, documentary screening, film screening, performance or celebration does not constitute endorsement of or agreement with the views presented therein. As an academic institution, we value diverse perspectives that promote dialogue and understanding.

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