Dowry has been illegal in India for over half a century and has long been condemned for its abuses to women, women’s families and the poor. Despite this, dowry is a growing phenomenon, increasing in prevalence and extremity. This thesis traces the sanskritization of dowry, the process in which a once-exclusive practice of the highest castes was adopted by families at all social levels, becoming divorced from honor along the way. This case study examines the dowry practice of a rural Dalit and low caste community in Tamil Nadu, South India, where dowry has prevailed only in the last two generations. Using Kwame Anthony Appiah’s Honor Theory as a framework, this thesis seeks to explain dowry’s persistence by its entrenchment in the honor system of the Indian family. In the studied area, as well as in India at large, dowry has reached the height of its moral and economic abuses, a reality that will become more apparent as India expands its role in the global community. This study suggests that honor codes should be redefined and used as incentives to encourage the abandonment of dowry.
Keywords: dowry / honor / Kwame Anthony Appiah / Tamil Nadu / sanskritization
|School:||The American University of Paris (France)|
|Source:||MAI 56/02M(E), Masters Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Cultural anthropology, South Asian Studies|
|Keywords:||Appiah, Kwame Anthony, Dalit, Dowry, India, Sanskritization, Tamil Nadu|
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