Marriage, violence, and choice: Understanding Dalit women's agency in rural Tamil Nadu

Rao, Nitya ORCID: (2015) Marriage, violence, and choice: Understanding Dalit women's agency in rural Tamil Nadu. Gender and Society, 29 (3). pp. 410-433. ISSN 1552-3977

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Literature on Dalit women largely deals with issues of violence and oppression based on intersections of class, caste and gender. Women’s bodies, sexuality and reproductive choices are linked to the ideological hegemony of the caste-gender nexus in India, with marriage and sexual relations critical in maintaining caste boundaries. Often the ways in which women manipulate their multiple, interlinked identities as women, Dalits, workers and home-makers to resist control over their bodies (labour and sexuality), negotiate conjugal loyalty and love, and construct a sense of selfhood is missed in the analyses. Based on research in rural Tamil Nadu, I analyse in this paper Dalit women’s narratives that reflect multiple concerns and dilemmas about marital choice and violence, generating in the process a deeper understanding of agency, voice and gender relations, as fluid, dynamic, and intersecting in response to changing experiences, positionalities and subjectivities.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License ( which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access page (
Uncontrolled Keywords: marriage,violence,agency,tamil nadu,sdg 16 - peace, justice and strong institutions ,/dk/atira/pure/sustainabledevelopmentgoals/peace_justice_and_strong_institutions
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Social Sciences > School of International Development
University of East Anglia > Faculty of Science > Research Centres > Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research
Depositing User: Pure Connector
Date Deposited: 21 Nov 2014 14:58
Last Modified: 21 Oct 2022 00:19
DOI: 10.1177/0891243214554798

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