Cutting Across Norms
Tiplut Nongbri
FAMILY AND GENDER: CHANGING VALUES IN GERMANY AND INDIA by Margrit Pernau Sage Publications, New Delhi, 2004, 380 pp., price not stated.
March 2004, volume 28, No 3

This book is yet another addition to the growing body of literature on the family and gender. An outcome of a seminar organized by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation it comprises thirteen excellent essays written by scholars from different academic disciplines and political views from Germany and India. The papers are arranged under four themes: social history of the family, images and practices, relations with the state and fault lines.Initiating the discourse, the Introduction emphasizes the need to look at family relations across time and space. To render the data meaningful Margrit Pernau advocates the de-contextualization of the relations from their specific socio-cultural moorings and then re-contextualize them within a comparative framework. Comparison, she argues, would not only help to evolve a ‘universal model’ on the way gender and family interrelate, it would also deepen our knowledge by looking at the same phenomenon in different contexts. To this end, the choice of Germany and India – two countries with distinctly different socio-political history and culture – is a welcome step indeed.

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