Professional Women, Good Families: Respectable Femininity and the Cultural Politics of a “New” India

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Abstract

This study of professional software women in urban India examines practices of respectable femininity and discourses of the Indian family to understand the changing and abiding aspects of a seemingly new national culture. Colonial and nationalist constructs of the Indian home, and the middle-class women who protected that home, continue to powerfully shape everyday articulations of national belonging, even as they are transformed through individual negotiations and a global economy. Drawing from extensive interviews and ethnographic work, this paper analyzes the interplay of gender, class, and nation in contemporary urban India as individualized, gendered efforts to accumulate symbolic capital.

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