A Field of One's Own: Gender and Land Rights in South Asia

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In this comprehensive analysis of gender and property throughout South Asia, Bina Agarwal argues that the most important economic factor affecting women is the gender gap in command over property. In rural South Asia, few women own land and even fewer control it. Drawing on a wide range of sources, including field research, the author addresses the reason for this imbalance, and asks how the barriers to ownership can be overcome. The book offers original insights into the current theoretical and policy debates on land reform and women's status.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This is a book of great importance and much originality, dealing with the problem of gender inequality in economic and social contexts. Dr. Agarwal has focused on the crucial role of inequality in property rights, particulary in land ownership. Her thorough exploration of this perspective substantially enriches our understanding of causal factors behind the deprivation of women in South Asia--and possibly elsewhere as well." Amartya Sen, Harvard University

"A Field of One's Own is a monumental study examining the gender gap in land rights in South Asia....It makes a valuable contribution to the fields of economics, sociology, and anthropology." Contemporary Sociology

"Agarwal underlines the need for an interdisciplinary approach to questions such as genderinequality and land rights....And thus, Agarwal stresses on the need for mobilising and organising rural women if equal land rights have to be achieved....One may not agree with the political project of Agarwal, but the detailed accounts of actually existing gender relations in the different parts of South Asia and the analytical rigour with which she presents her arguments are simply compelling. By using history, ethnography and maps, she has constructed a story that is both interesting and thought provoking. Even those with no political conviction will find the book a fruitful reading." Surinder S. Jodhka, Indian Journal of Agricultural Economics

"Bina Agarwal makes an important contribution to the critical assessment of the 'condition of South Asia' fifty years after independence. ...this well-informed review of cultural practices as well as of property and inheritance laws provides us with a firmer bases for thinking through strategies to improve the condition of women in South Asia." Barrie M. Morrison, Pacific Affairs

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521429269
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 2/28/1995
  • Series: Cambridge South Asian Studies Series, #58
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 596
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 1.34 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface; l. Land rights for women: making the case; 2. Conceptualizing gender relations; 3. Customary rights and associated practices; 4. Erosion and disinheritance: traditionally matrilineal and bilateral communities today; 5. Contemporary law: contestation and content; 6. Whose share? Who claims? The gap between law and practice; 7. Whose land? Who commands? The gap between ownership and control; 8. Tracing cross-regional diversities; 9. Struggles over resources, struggles over meanings; l0. The long march ahead.
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