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.



The ‘sacred foundations’ of women's suppression in Assamese society traced to historical roots as represented in myths, legends and religious forms have justified male dominance in the patriarchal family, caste system and other socio-economic structures which, as Liddle and Joshi (1986) maintain, are sites of the struggle ‘to restrain female power’. Such a historical analysis of the female power principle, the underlying ideologies and its suppression in the male-dominant socio-economic structures are crucial to an understanding of gender relations. Slow transformation took place, particularly in colonial times, marking a change simultaneously in gender relations and the transition of the woman in Assam. In the new colonial economy, changes in the agrarian societies of Assam were very subtle but nevertheless, they impacted a change in ...

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