From Ghoonghat to De Beauvoir Finding a Feminist Voice through Ethnography

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Isha Mathur

Abstract

Questions of identity are central to anthropological studies. Likewise, the use of self-narrative as a resource has widened the scope for ethnographic research, becoming a form of participant-observer study. The author produces a narrative of the experiences of women in Marwadi communities in western India. The narrative examines the relationship between culture and identity for the purpose of achieving greater self-awareness. It explores the concept of veiling as a discriminatory practice and uses it as a metaphor for understanding wider gender issues. The study draws upon primary sources, such as oral history. Since memory is an important resource but is also selective in its veracity, the author supplements it with secondary sources that reflect on the dichotomy between communities, individuals, and gender. The central purpose of this personal ethnography is to understand the implications of ancestry and develop voice in the larger process of identification of oneself as a feminist.

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Student Research