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Title: Symbols of Heterosexual Marriage and Negotiations of Heteronormativity: Narratives of Three Generations of Urban Middle-Class Bengali Women Living in Kolkata
Other Titles: SOCIAL TRENDS, Vol. 6, March 2019, p 46 - 59
Authors: Das, Nabamita
Keywords: Gender
reflexive modernization
Issue Date: Mar-2019
Publisher: University of North Bengal
Abstract: Through interview-generated narratives of women of three generations of urban middle-class Bengalis living in Kolkata and other auto-ethnographic narrative texts; this paper seeks to examine gender, generation and class specific meanings of intimate heterosexual identities and relations. It focuses on the ways in which subjects negotiate, that is, confirm and interrogate, uphold and challenge, submit and rebel institutionalized heterosexuality or heteronormativity through the practice of bearing, not bearing and negotiating with symbols of marriage. Subjects’ ongoing negotiations that tell stories of multiple and contradictory subjectivities, are analyzed to show how personal narratives of intimacy vary across a range of conflicting and competing colonialist, nationalist and trans-nationalist discourses of heterosexuality and cultural mandates of femininity. The paper: • demonstrates that expressions of heterosexual love are socially ordered, culturally learnt and linguistically mediated • examines the power and vulnerability of doing gender and doing class through doing intimacy • brings out the cultural politics of gendering that mediated the colonial history of Bengal • shows how this politics of gendering still reigns strong within a contemporary, urban middleclass Bengali society. This is particularly evident in its women’s narratives of respectable middle-class femininity, who have now come to embody a “modern” Bengal, without, however, failing to bear the cultural “authenticity” of her nation, community, and family • critiques the “individualization thesis” of reflexive modernization by demonstrating that practices of heterosexual love overlap with gender and class-cultural practices and are strongly embedded within family relations, both real and imagined, and • interrogates a colonial-modernist concept of unilinear progress by illustrating, through generational narratives of heterosexual intimacy, the shifting meanings and mutual co-constitution of the putative dichotomous categories of “tradition” and “modern”, “East” and “West”.
ISSN: 2348-6538
Appears in Collections:Vol. 6 (March 2019)

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