Women's Agency and Social Change: Assam and Beyond focuses on varied oppression, power relations and ideologies embedded in the complex yet interdependent social, political, economic and legal structures, and women's subordination therein.
British intervention, 1826–1947, by itself did not impact the agency aspect on women directly, but the emergence of new forces and factors sowed the seeds of women's agency to impact social change, even if minimal. In the post-Independence period, British colonial legacy perpetuated the subordination of women through caste and class hierarchy at several levels, but an undercurrent of a feminist struggle persisted, not merely as a movement but also at individual levels.
The book is written with the hope of encouraging future research on women's experiences in the Northeastern region of India, and elsewhere; hence, a discussion on sources, methods and methodology is included in the conclusion. This book is based on the belief that knowledge production is, in itself, the praxis against oppressive structures and the need to understand the historical processes that slowly transformed women to become catalysts of social transformation.
Chapter 2: Women and Law
Women and Law
‘Women and Law’ addresses the transformation that took place during colonialism in the judicial structure of India as a whole and its implications for women in Assam in the colonial and postcolonial periods. Laws against domestic violence and dowry in the post-Independence period, though late in the coming, have empowered women and have given them the prop to impact social change. The advent of colonialism gradually altered the legal structure of India to suit their needs by undermining the existing informal, non-state arbitration system which dispensed justice by applying the norms of customary law and those inscribed in the Smritis or Quran. This was inevitable as British imperialism tightened its grip and lost no opportunity to use British law to ...