Week 2, Representing Sati: Continuities and Discontinuities, Rajan

October 8, 2007

This article complemented Chatterjee’s reflections on the women’s social reform movement and nationalism in India. The self-immolation of the Hindu widow, referred to as “sati” is the issue of Rajan’s discussion which reflects the tension that surfaces in independence movements between tradition and progressive reform. Within the article he relates how depending on worldview, one can see the practice of self-immolation as barbaric, involuntary and clearly out of step with a modernizing society, or one that reflects a virtuous woman’s voluntary response to her husbands death. Rajan outlines the difficulties these two perspectives pose to one another, the former representing a Western perspective, the latter the traditional Indian representation of Sati.

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