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Intimate Subversions: Minority women encountering laws and patriarchy

Das, Joyce Mormita

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This thesis asks: How do multiple laws collude with patriarchy to define minority women’s positions in the state, society, and the community? And How do religious minority women in a postcolonial context selectively seek, apply, and subvert these multiple laws to achieve their own objectives? Broadly speaking, this thesis examines the complex relationship between multiple laws and gender in religious minority groups in South Asia. In particular,...[Show more]

dc.contributor.authorDas, Joyce Mormita
dc.date.accessioned2017-06-19T00:37:37Z
dc.identifier.otherb4501968x
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/1885/117525
dc.description.abstractThis thesis asks: How do multiple laws collude with patriarchy to define minority women’s positions in the state, society, and the community? And How do religious minority women in a postcolonial context selectively seek, apply, and subvert these multiple laws to achieve their own objectives? Broadly speaking, this thesis examines the complex relationship between multiple laws and gender in religious minority groups in South Asia. In particular, it examines the roles, both constraining and liberating, played by laws, rules, and normative orders that together comprise a situation of legal pluralism to show how they affect women in the Christian community in Bangladesh. In this thesis, I use a feminist standpoint to interrogate the theories of legal pluralism; hence, I argue for a feminist theory of legal pluralism. By engaging critically with feminist theories, I show that women’s full experience of law cannot be captured if the state is considered as the sole source of laws. Instead, other social sources of laws should also be considered to understand and capture the complexities of legal and social realities that women experience. Therefore, I argue for a shift from the legal centralist to a legal pluralist paradigm in order to capture how women experience the plurality of laws. The second shift that is required for the same purpose is of the centre of analysis of legal pluralism from ‘law’ to ‘women’, by considering women’s intersectional subjectivities where women’s identities intersect with their sex, class, religion, sexuality, and physical location. To illuminate the research questions, I used ethnographic methods in various sites in Bangladesh. The methods include in-depth interviews, archival research, participant observation, and content analysis that were applied at multiple scales. First, I examine how law and gender interact with each other at the state level. I analyse the situation of legal pluralism of religious minority groups in terms of their respective state and non-state laws. I also seek a historical route to understanding how religious minority communities were created in South Asia; in particular, how the identities of Christians were shaped through colonisation, Christianisation, and the law-creation processes, and their gendered experiences of these processes. At the next scale of analysis, I focus on the Christian community in Bangladesh as they construct their group identities, autonomy, and authority to see closely how gender intersects with community power, politics, and dynamics. At this scale, I examine the effects of the interaction of law with patriarchy by focusing on women’s everyday lives in their homes, workplaces, community, churches, and elsewhere. At the micro-scale of analysis, I examine, compare, and contrast the gendered treatment of multiple laws and normative orders. I do this by investigating three areas that are crucial to gender identities: marriage, divorce, and inheritance. Again, a feminist theory of legal pluralism helps me to reveal how individual women interpret, apply, choose alternative paths, and subvert both state and non-state laws. The investigation underlines that complex socio-political context and the historical legacy of intimate colonisation by the British have combined to create an impasse, where achieving gender equality remains a distant dream for religious minority women. Consequently, the research not only converses with the feminist theory of legal pluralism but also contributes a legal pluralism angle to the rich and vibrant debates on gender and development.
dc.language.isoen
dc.subjectMinority women
dc.subjectgender
dc.subjectfeminist legal theories
dc.subjectlegal pluralism
dc.subjectSouth Asia
dc.subjectBangladesh
dc.subjectChristian women
dc.subjectcolonisation
dc.subjectpatriarchy
dc.subjectmarriage
dc.subjectdivorce
dc.subjectwomen's inheritance
dc.titleIntimate Subversions: Minority women encountering laws and patriarchy
dc.typeThesis (PhD)
local.contributor.supervisorLahiri-Dutt, Kuntala
local.contributor.supervisorcontactkuntala.lahiri-dutt@anu.edu.au
dcterms.valid2017
local.description.notesthe author deposited 19/06/17
local.type.degreeDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)
dc.date.issued2017
local.contributor.affiliationEnvironment and Development Group, Crawford School of Public Policy, College of Asia and the Pacific, The Australian National University
local.identifier.doi10.25911/5d70edfc1c64d
dc.provenance6.2.2020 - Made open access after no response to emails re: extending restriction.
local.mintdoimint
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