Kristin LaHatte



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Several of the sources in the bibliography indicate that gender roles have a significant impact on the risk of contracting the virus. This is the case for both men and women. For instance, the literature reveals that in some instances, men seek multiple sexual partners to establish their masculinity. Women, on the other hand, conform to expectations of femininity, which influence their passivity and submissiveness in the face of male sexual aggression. Nonetheless, a few articles in this collection demonstrate that both men and women are able to contest such gender roles, although the effectiveness of such behavior has its limits within a context of established social norms.


The concept of structural violence, which perpetuates gender inequality across generations and places women at a greater risk of contracting the virus, also appears frequently in the literature. Much of the literature places HIV/AIDS within a context of gender inequality, noting that such inequality diminishes a woman’s ability to reduce her risk of exposure to the virus. For instance, gender inequality reduces a woman’s power to insist on the use of a condom by her male partner. Moreover, economic dependency on men places some women in a vulnerable position. In some instances, women engage in transactional sex, through which they gain basic needs such as food and shelter, in exchange for sex.

The role of agency in mitigating the risk of HIV infection connects with both gender inequity and structural violence. Many of the sources demonstrate how individuals lack the ability to make decisions as rational actors. Rather, they are bound by collective identities and shared norms. Their choices are constrained by cultural constructions of sexuality and HIV/AIDS, and by power inequalities spanning across generations between men and women. The literature in this bibliography primarily depicts women as having little agency to reduce the risk of contracting the virus.

The collection of studies presented here lays the foundation for understanding how cultural factors facilitate the spread of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Health-related behaviors are shaped by collective cultural identities. Further ethnographic research targeted at successful behavior change interventions would be useful in future designs of HIV-prevention interventions. Behavior change might rely on at-risk people understanding that cultural contexts constrain their choices and undermine their well-being. In turn, they might assume greater agency in contesting the structural violence and cultural expectations that place them at risk of contracting the virus.

Annotated Bibliography


Brown, Jill, James Sorrell, and Raffaelli Marcela 2005. An Exploratory Study of Constructions of Masculinity, Sexuality, and HIV/AIDS in Namibia, Southern Africa. Culture, Health, & Sexuality 7(6): 585-598.



This study consists of thirteen open-ended interviews and three focus groups among 50 participants, both male and female, aged 19-50 in rural and urban Namibia. The article explores conceptualizations of masculinity, and their direct and indirect connections with HIV/AIDS among Owambo men and women in Namibia. Six principal themes emerged from the study: the evolving constructions of masculinity, engendered power dynamics, women as active agents, alcohol and masculinity, the merging of notions of masculinity and explanations of HIV/AIDS, and the conflict between education and HIV transmission. The author applies this qualitative analysis to emphasize the need for policymakers to consider cultural conceptions of masculinity when implementing prevention interventions.
Namibia

HIV/AIDS


Power inequality

Masculinity

Gender roles

Sexual relations



Datta, Kavita, and Cathy McIlwaine 2004

Endangered Youth? Youth, Gender and Sexualities in Urban Botswana. Gender, Place & Culture: A Journal of Feminist Geography 11(4): 483-512.

This study, based on participatory urban appraisal methodologies, examines sociocultural constructions of sexuality among urban youth in Botswana in order to highlight the need to include gender and cultural considerations in policy responses to high levels of HIV/AIDS and teenage pregnancy among youth. The authors emphasize the importance of changes in gender, cultural, and sexual identities when considering appropriate policy responses.
Botswana

HIV/AIDS


Gender

Identity


Youth

Sexual relations



Dawson, Maria Teresa and Sandra M. Gifford 2001

Narratives, Culture, and Sexual Health: Personal Experiences of Salvadorean and Chilean Women Living in Melbourne, Australia. Health: An Interdisciplinary Journal for the Social Study of Health, Illness & Medicine 5(4): 403-424.

This study explores narratives about gender, culture, sexual health, and identity among Chilean and Salvadorean migrant women residing in Melbourne, Australia. By comparing the migrant women’s experiences in their native country with their experiences in Melbourne, the authors examine how these women have renegotiated their gender roles and how these changes have been experienced through sexual health. The authors evaluate Australia’s health promotion and HIV/AIDS prevention programs among migrant communities. The programs have generally failed to consider variations in cultural context and how gender roles of the women’s native country affect their behavior.
Melbourne

Australia

Gender roles

Identity


HIV/AIDS

Sexual relations

Duffy, Lynne 2005

Culture and Context of HIV Prevention in Rural Zimbabwe: The Influence of Gender Inequality. Journal of Transcultural Nursing 16(1): 23-31.



Based on ethnographic methods, this article examines the cultural factors that prevent or facilitate rural Ndau women’s participation in HIV prevention. Societal expectations that pressure women to become workers and mothers, within a context of violence, subservience, and economic dependence on men, inhibit HIV prevention among women. The author highlights how cultural beliefs that sustain gender inequalities must be considered when constructing HIV prevention strategies. Ultimately, the author suggests that gender analysis and the challenging of oppressive systems are vital to HIV/AIDS prevention.
Zimbabwe

HIV/AIDS


Gender roles

Gender inequality

Ethnography

Haram, Liv 2005

AIDS and Risk: The Handling of Uncertainty in Northern Tanzania. Culture, Health & Sexuality 7(1): 1-11.

This study, based on longitudinal fieldwork in Arusha town and nearby northern districts in Tanzania, examines how people mitigate the risk of contracting HIV. The author demonstrates that contrary to theories of risk, in which the individual is seen as a rational actor that would choose behavior to reduce the risk of exposure to HIV, people particularly women, face constraints dictated by culture in their decision-making regarding sexual behavior. For example, risk and trust in sexual relationships are gendered, and imbalances in favor of men often place women at risk of contracting the virus.
Northern Tanzania

HIV/AIDS


Risk

Trust


Gender

Sexual relationships

Hawkins, Kirstan, Fátima Mussá, and Sandia Abuxahama 2005

Milking the Cow: Young Women’s Constructions of Identity, Gender, Power, and Risk in Transactional and Cross-generational Sexual Relationships: Maputo, Mozambique. Options Consultancy Services and Population Services International. Retrieved on March 16, 2006 from



<http://www.developmentgateway.org/pop/rc/ItemDetail.do~1057676>.

This report provides knowledge concerning the behavior and sexual networking of young women in Maputo, Mozambique for use in behavior change interventions intended to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS. The study identifies the economic and social systems, within a context of gender and identity constructions, which facilitate and/or encourage cross-generational sex for money and material benefit. Many young women do not regard transactional sex as a survival strategy intended to secure basic needs such as food and shelter, but rather they view it as a strategy that empowers them as active agents who seek to improve their socioeconomic status and contest gender and power imbalances. The women use their sexuality to access financial resources from men and ultimately “milk the cow” in order to access lifestyles that symbolize modernity, success, and power.


Maputo

Mozambique

HIV/AIDS

Cross-generation

Sex as power

Gender


Identity

Risk


Women’s agency

Sexual relationships

Hoosen, Sarah and Anthony Collins 2004

Sex, Sexuality and Sickness: Discourses of Gender and HIV/AIDS Among KwaZulu-Natal Women. South African Journal of Psychology 34(3): 487-505.



This article examines cultural and social factors that influence KwaZulu-Natal women’s sexual behavior, with a particular emphasis on discourses of gender and HIV/AIDS. This study draws on data collected in seven focus groups with women living in a peri-urban area of Durban, South Africa. The authors’ findings demonstrate how women might lack the ability to make decisions about safe sex as rational actors. Such choices are related to sociocultural constructions of sexuality and HIV/AIDS, and are governed by power inequalities perpetuated within cultural discourse. The article identifies specific cultural practices that sustain gender roles and how these affect sexual practices. The authors conclude by analyzing the implications of these findings for HIV/AIDS education programs.
Durban

South Africa

Gender inequality

HIV/AIDS


Discourse

Sexual risk

Psychology

Hunter, Mark 2005

Cultural Politics and Masculinities: Multiple-partners in Historical Perspective in KwaZulu-Natal. Culture, Health & Sexuality 7(4): 389-403.

This article, supported by ethnographic, archival, and secondary research, examines the antecedents of contemporary constructions of masculinity in KwaZulu, Natal, a South African province, in an attempt to understand the rise and fall of isoka, the Zulu man with multiple-sexual partners. The author suggests that the high value associated with men having multiple partners arose from the 1970s when high unemployment rates prevented men from expressing their masculinity through traditional means, such as marriage and establishing oneself as the head of a household. With the rise in deaths from AIDS, however, men are contesting isoka.


KwaZulu Natal

South Africa

HIV/AIDS

Masculinity

Sexual relationships

Jeltova, Ida, Marian C. Fish and Tracey A. Revenson 2005

Risky Sexual Behaviors in Immigrant Adolescent Girls from the Former Soviet Union: Role of Natal and Host Culture. Journal of School Psychology 43(1): 2-33.

This article explores how acculturation processes of adolescent girls who recently emmigrated from the former Soviet Union to the United States affect their participation in risky sexual behavior, which puts them at a high risk for HIV/AIDS contraction and unintended pregnancy. The authors find that natal culture has a protective role for the girls, while a high level of acculturation to American culture is related to increased participation in risky sexual behavior.


United States

HIV/AIDS


Acculturation

Risk


Sexual behavior

Psychology

Karlyn, A.S. 2005

Intimacy Revealed: Sexual Experimentation and the Construction of Risk Among Young People in Mozambique. Culture, Health, & Sexuality 7(3): 279-292.



This study explores the sexual behavior and risk reduction practices of young people in urban and rural Mozambique. The author examines the contexts and rules regarding sexual risk-taking among youth and suggests that young people have redefined sexual identities to combine risk reduction with sexual behavior that is not based on gender roles defined by male domination. Young males and females have redefined the saca cena, or one-night stand, as a less risky sexual practice that includes exclusive condom use. Young males and females conceptualize the saca cena as an activity for both men and women to experiment and be adventuresome, outside of the traditional conceptions of male dominance through sexual conquest and female acquiescence.
Mozambique

HIV/AIDS


Youth

Risk


Gender roles

Sexual relations

Khan, Sharful Islam, Nancy Hudson-Rodd, Sherry Saggers, and Abbas Bhuiya 2005

Men Who Have Sex With Men’s Sexual Relations with Women in Bangladesh. Culture, Health & Sexuality 7(2): 159-169.



This article explores the nature and meaning of the sexual relations between MSM (men who have sex with men) and women. This study, based on qualitative research, explores the conceptualizations of gender and masculinity within Bangladesh that pressure men to marry and father children, in spite of their preference and desire to have sex with men. This article finds that men who have sex with men identify sex with women as “real” sex within masculine understandings of sexual potency. As a result, women face negative health consequences, such as contracting HIV from their husbands.
Bangladesh

HIV/AIDS


Gender

Masculinity

Men who have sex with men

Sexual relations

LeClerc-Madlala, Suzanne 2001

Demonising Women in the Era of AIDS: On the Relationship Between Cultural Constructions of Both HIV/AIDS and Femininity. Society in Transition 32 (1): 38-46.



This article draws on an ethnographic study conducted within a community in the Durban area of South Africa and explores the symbolic representations of sexual activity and HIV/AIDS. The author suggests that the Zulu community associates meaning to HIV/AIDS based on sociocultural constructions of femininity, which define women as being both the source and disseminators of the disease.
Durban

South Africa

HIV/AIDS

Gender


Symbolism

Sociocultural constructions

Femininity

Sexual relations



2001 Virginity Testing: Managing Sexuality in a Maturing HIV/AIDS Epidemic. Medical Anthropology Quarterly 15(4): 533-552.

This article identifies virginity testing of girls in the KwaZulu-Natal province in South Africa as a consequence of the sociocultural construction of HIV/AIDS, which identifies women being sexually “out of control” as the underlying source of the epidemic. The author argues that virginity testing is a means through which society manages the risk posed by women’s sexuality and the virus it spreads when in discord with social norms. Moreover, the author points out that virginity testing reaffirms the gendered meaning of HIV/AIDS found in popular discourse, by diverting attention away from the role that men have in spreading the disease.


South Africa

HIV/AIDS


Gender roles

Virginity testing

Risk

Sexual relations



Lugalla, J.L.P., and M.A.C. Emmelin. 1999

The Social and Cultural Contexts of HIV/AIDS Transmission in the Kagera Region, Tanzania. Journal of Asian & African Studies 34(4): 377-403.

In the Kagera region of northwestern Tanzania heterosexual contact is the primary means of HIV/AIDS transmission. Understanding the social and cultural factors that influence sexual behavior is vital to successful prevention interventions. Drawing from participant observation, interviews, and focus groups, the Kagera AIDS Research Project examine the sociocultural processes that facilitate the spread of HIV/AIDS, including war, poverty, and cultural factors such as gender inequality, trust in relationships, and sex meanings and beliefs.
Kagera Region

Tanzania


HIV/AIDS

Heterosexual relations

Gender inequality

Culture


Trust

Qualitative research



Manuel, Sandra. 2005

Obstacles to Condom Use Among Secondary School Students in Maputo City, Mozambique. Culture, Health & Sexuality 7(3): 293-302.

This article examines perceptions of urban youth (male and female) in Mozambique concerning sexual behavior. It explores the factors that prevent them from practicing safer sex (particularly condom use) in the context of HIV/AIDS. Drawing from focus group discussions, interviews, and informal conversations with high school students in Maputo, Mozambique, the authors conclude that youth are less likely to use condoms in steady relationships based on trust than in casual sexual interactions. This perception is reinforced by previous prevention campaigns that promoted condom use between “occasional sexual partners.” The author finds that gender inequality also contributes to the lack of condom use between partners.
Maputo

Mozambique

HIV/AIDS

Gender inequality

Trust

Risk


Condoms

Sexual relations

Pattman, Rob. 2005

Boys and Girls Should Not Be Too Close: Sexuality, the Identities of African Boys and Girls and HIV/AIDS Education. Sexualities 8(4): 497-516.



Drawing from interviews with and diaries of 6-18 year-olds in southern and eastern Africa, this UNICEF-funded study examines the significance of sexuality in the construction of identity. In particular, the article explores how girls and boys invoked and contested sexuality, and the types of identities they took on as they spoke and wrote about sexuality. The author argues that constructions of female sexuality, as framed by Carole Vance, are important for understanding and educating young girls and boys about sex and the risks of HIV/AIDS. Ultimately sex education must be framed in gender sensitive ways, and must include life skills training that address both sexual and non-sexual cultures.
Southern and eastern Africa

Gender


Sexuality

HIV/AIDS


Identity

Youth


Sexual relations

Schatz, Enid. 2005

‘Take your Mat and Go!’: Rural Malawian Women’s Strategies in the HIV/AIDS Era. Culture, Health & Sexuality 7(5): 479-492.

Enid Schatz critically evaluates a common assumption in HIV/AIDS prevention literature that women are passive and unable to protect themselves against contracting HIV/AIDS. Drawing from data collected during in-depth interviews with married couples in rural Malawi, the author examines the extent to which married women believe they have agency in protecting themselves from contracting the virus from their husbands and the strategies they employ to do so. Methods include using social networks for advice, discussing HIV/AIDS with their husbands, publicly confronting their husbands’ mistresses, and divorcing men who threaten their sexual health. Although the women face constraints, such as economic dependency and inequality, they are not passive, but are acting to protect themselves by using locally appropriate strategies.


Malawi (rural)

HIV/AIDS


Gender inequality

Women’s agency

Risk

Sexual relations



Simpson, Anthony. 2005

Sons and Fathers/Boys to Men in the Time of AIDS: Learning Masculinity in Zambia. Journal of Southern African Studies 31(3): 569-586.

Anthony Simpson explores how expressions of heterosexual masculinities, particularly those that require aggressive sexuality, help fuel the spread of HIV/AIDS in Zambia. While many studies have been undertaken to explore the various dimensions of female vulnerability to the virus, this article presents the vulnerability that Zambian men face as a result of social pressures to behave in a sexually aggressive manner. The author documents the life histories of a group of men that were educated in a Zambian Catholic mission, to find out how they came to construct and define themselves as men. Lastly, the author examines how such hegemonic constructions of masculinity are contested in an era of HIV/AIDS.
Zambia

HIV/AIDS


Heterosexual identity

Masculinity

Sexual relations

Singer, Merrill, Cándida Flores, Lani Davison, Georgine Burke, Zaida Castillo, Kelley Scanlon, and Migdalia Rivera. 1990

SIDA: The Economic, Social, and Cultural Context of AIDS Among Latinos. Medical Anthropology Quarterly 4(1): 72-114.

This study explores why AIDS was disproportionately prevalent among US Latinos in the early 1990s by examining the sociocultural and socioeconomic conditions of Latinos living in the U.S. The article reviews existing literature concerning the demographic and socioeconomic characteristics of the Latino population, the prevalence of the disease within subgroups categorized by gender, age, and route of transmission, the knowledge and cultural understandings of HIV/AIDS, and the risk behaviors among Latinos living in the U.S., such as sexual practices, drug use, and gender relations.


United States

HIV/AIDS


US Latinos

Culture


Gender relations

Socioeconomic context

Age

Risk behaviors



Medical anthropology

Sexual relations

Smith, Daniel Jordan. 2001

Premarital Sex, Procreation, and HIV Risk in Nigeria. Studies in Family Planning 35(4): 223-235.

This study presents various explanations of the observed disparity between people’s knowledge of HIV/AIDS in Nigeria, and their actions taken (or not taken) to mitigate the risk of contracting the virus. The author draws from survey data of 863 adolescent and unmarried young adults, interviews, and participant observation. He finds that values regarding the importance of procreation are gender-specific, and give men and women different negotiating power when it comes to sex and contraception.
Nigeria

HIV/AIDS


Gender inequality

Premarital sex

Risk

Sexual relations



Smith, Daniel Jordan 2004

Youth, Sin and Sex in Nigeria: Christianity and HIV/AIDS-Related Beliefs and Behaviour Among Rural-Urban Migrants. Culture, Health & Sexuality 6(5): 425-437.



This article explores how young men and women in two Nigerian cities interpret HIV/AIDS through moral and religious perspectives, primarily through evangelical and Pentecostal Christianity. The author examines how this understanding influences risk behavior. He suggests that religious interpretations of HIV lead many young people to believe that they are at little or no risk, which threatens their health by discouraging protective practices. Smith highlights the need for intervention strategies to consider the extent to which religion, sexuality, and morality affect risk behavior.
Nigeria

HIV/AIDS


Religion

Morality


Trust

Risk


Gender

Sexual relations

Susser, Ida and Zena Stein. 2000

Culture, Sexuality, and Women’s Agency in the Prevention of HIV/AIDS in Southern Africa. American Journal of Public Health 90(6): 1042-1048.



Based on ethnographic research carried out in South Africa, Botswana, and Namibia, this article examines HIV/AIDS awareness among women and their knowledge of preventive practices. The research, conducted from 1992 through 1999 in urban and rural settings, concentrated on heterosexual transmission. Many men and women in southern Africa perceive the female condom and other women-controlled methods to be culturally appropriate methods of prevention. This acceptability varies among different communities, reinforcing the findings that local circumstances need to be taken into account when designing intervention programs. Ultimately, the authors found that historic patterns of gender inequality and societal neglect of women’s sexuality are the main barriers to the distribution and use of women-controlled prevention methods.
Southern Africa

HIV/AIDS


Culture

Heterosexual relations

Gender inequality

Power


Women’s agency

Sexual relations

Whitehead, Tony L. 1996

Urban Low-Income African American Men, HIV/AIDS, and Gender Identity. Medical Anthropology Quarterly 11(4): 411-447.

Tony Whitehead explores the sexual behavior of low-income African American males in Baltimore, other cities in Maryland, and Washington, DC in terms of their risk of contracting HIV. The author seeks to understand sexual health risk behavior through research on gender identity and sociocultural constructions. He draws attention to mainstream American constructs of masculinity and the meanings that low-income African American males attach to HIV/AIDS. Findings are based on data from several ethnographic and qualitative research projects.
Baltimore

Other cities in Maryland, and Washington, D.C.

HIV/AIDS

Gender


African American males

Masculinity

Medical anthropology
Cultural Heritage and Cultural Resistance through Ritual Performance in South Asia

Kate Hohman
This annotated bibliography focuses on culturally constructed identities and the ways in which those identities are negotiated within their South Asian context. Each entry in the bibliography focuses on public performance, most notably in the form of a festival or public ritual as the sites of negotiation. References related to the simultaneous performance of gender, class, caste, religion/spirituality, and cultural identity demonstrate the intersection of multiple identities. The emphasis on the public performance of culturally respected and socially recognized rituals creates a space for critical social commentary that contests dominant ideologies, such as patriarchy, classism, and economic development discourses. Examples of the fluidity of resistance through events that promote cultural preservation include Skinner and Holland’s work on Tij in Nepal, Raheja and Gold’s studies of oral traditions in North India, and Reed’s work on the Beravā, classical dance and nationalism in Sri Lanka.

Throughout this annotated bibliography the aspect of the public event becomes crucial in understanding it as a form of protest, as well as a strategy for defining cultural practices as a form of understanding group identity. Working within a system of tradition, groups of individuals create new definitions of themselves that emerge in opposition to existing social definitions. Resistance of this kind implies certain risk, considering that dominant social ideology is almost always formed by individuals or groups of individuals working to conserve their own power and preserving a system of structural violence. When groups fail to comply with ideologies such as patriarchy, classism, etc, they are risking social and political repercussions from those they are opposing. By embedding critical social commentary in ritual traditions groups are working in creatively subversive ways to manage their own security. For example, Skinner and Holland’s research on the Tij festival in Nepal focuses on the ways women exercise political agency during the initial phases of the democracy movement. Women’s use of the socially respected event allowed a space for them to raise questions of political legitimacy in a specific period of Nepalese history when even the whisper of political opinions would land one in jail.

Though the bibliography focuses primarily on ritual as resistance, agency exerted in the form of identity contestation is only one form of agency. Considering future research, the topics of resistance and contestation might be expanded to include a variety of identities not just limited to gender, class, or religion, or narrowed to focus solely on one of these aspects in greater depth.

This bibliography’s regional focus on South Asia provides a basis for comparison with similar studies conducted in other world regions and cultural contexts. Cultural anthropologists’ attention to issues of cultural heritage and forms of resistance is necessary within an increasingly globalized world.




Annotated Bibliography

Aggarwal, Ravina. 2004.

Beyond Lines of Control: Performance and Politics on the Disputed Borders of Ladakh, India. Durham: Duke University Press.

This book focuses on the way in which cultural performances become sites for shaping political identity in Ladakh. By providing the context of the Kashmir border dispute, the author situates the importance of finding alternative ways to enact political expressions of struggle. In her examination of performances such as festivals and rites of passage ceremonies, Aggarwal demonstrates the influence of states’ political rhetoric on the region’s cultural history.


India

Kashmir


Ladakh

Performance

Border dispute

Political struggle

Cultural anthropology

Ahearn, Laura. 1998.

A Twisted Rope Binds My Waist: Locating Constraints on Meanings in a Tij Songfest. Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 8(1):60-86.

Ahearn analyzes the lyrics of one Nepali Tij song by presenting a practice theory of meaning constraint. Her approach demands the recognition of sociospatial, temporal, textual, and intertextual dimensions to understand how individuals actively interpret discursive events. Ahearn rejects the idea that merely singing in a Tij festival is an act of resistance. Rather, the complexity of Tij songs and their intertextuality creates multiple relationships between the song, the performers and the audience.


Nepal

South Asia

Hinduism, gender

Ritual


Songs

Resistance

Cultural anthropology

Appadurai, Arjun, Frank Korom and Margaret Mills. 1991.

Gender, Genre, and Power in South Asian Expressive Traditions. Philadelpia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

This volume is separated into three sections: gender, genres and tradition. The construction of self in oral performance is the theme that threads these essays. Examples of topics include performance style in Afghanistan, song and speech in an Indian epic performance, aesthetics and enactment of tradition. Broadly, the authors explore representation through a discussion of community.


South Asia

Hinduism


Expressive tradition

Gender


Power

Cultural anthropology

Bennett, Lynn. 1976.

The Wives of Rishis: An Analysis of the Tij-Rishi Panchami Women’s Festival. Kailash 4(2):185-207.

Bennett discusses the ritual that surrounds the Tij festival in Nepal. She explores the idea that the Tij-Rishi complex reinforces the Hindu patriarchal order, leaving little room for women’s agency in the festival. Bennett provides an in-depth description of each ritual performed, its purpose in Hindu ideology and, as such, its reason for being performed during Tij.
Nepal,

Tij


Hinduism

Ritual


Purity

Agency


Gender

Cultural anthropology

Calkowski, Marcia S. 1991.

A Day at the Tibetan Opera: Actualized Performance and Spectacular Discourse. American Ethnologist 18(4): 643-657.

The author analyzes a Tibetan Opera performed in Dharamsala, India, where a representation of an exorcism became a real exorcism. When the National Assembly of Deputies reprimands the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts for lacking traditional Tibetan qualities, the actors modify their performance to parody the deputies’ stance. As a result, dramatic art and reality mirror one another and create the performance of a mock exorcism and thus political expression.
Tibet

Opera


Speech

Ritual performance

Exorcism

Cultural anthropology

Enslin, Elizabeth. 1998.

Imagined Sisters: The Ambiguities of Women’s Poetics and Collective Actions. In Selves in Time and Place: Identities, Experience and History in Nepal. Debra Skinner, Alfred Pach, III and Dorothy Holland, eds. Pp. 269-299. Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers.

Enslin discusses song construction in Chitwan, Nepal, as it occurs in a women’s organization that was created to further literacy programs for women in the community. Enslin emphasizes the construction of critical consciousness and support among various castes/classes of women.
Nepal

Chitwan


Women

Social commentary

Literacy

Activism


Songs

Cultural anthropology

Holland, Dorothy and Debra Skinner. 1992.

Not Written by the Fate Writer: Women’s Production of Critical Commentary in Nepal. Unpublished manuscript.

The authors focus on agency as exhibited through song construction in a Hindu women’s festival in Nepal. Guided by the principle of “activity theory” Holland and Skinner present the women as possessing a creative intelligence that responds to cultural changes while also being bound by history and ritual. The authors emphasize the expanded ability of Nepali women to express political opinions in the Tij forum during the process of instituting democracy. Previously all political expression was banned according to Panchyat law with jailing as punishment. Examples of song lyrics are provided.
Nepal

Tij


Ritual

Gender


Agency

Political activism

Language

Song


Cultural anthropology

Holland, Dorothy C. and Debra G. Skinner. 1995.

Contested Ritual, Contested Femininities: (Re)forming Self and Society in a Nepali Women’s Festival. American Ethnologist 22 (2):279-305.

Holland and Skinner focus in this essay on the contemporary Tij festival, not as a space for reproducing the patriarchal structure, but instead presenting Tij as a space for women’s self consciousness, even social action in the wake of the democracy movement. The authors present three traditional song types and introduce an emerging fourth genre, which focuses on politics and government, calling women to action. This period of time is the first in which women are able to publicly express political opinions without experiencing repercussions by the government. Skinner and Holland follow the Tij participants in the Kathmandu Valley through song construction and present a number of examples of those lyrics.


Ritual

Festivals

Gender

Politics


Cultural anthropology

Holmberg, David. 2000.

Derision, Exorcism, and the Ritual Production of Power. American Ethnologist 27(4): 927-949.

Studying a ten-day ritual performance event in a Buddhist Tamang community in northwest Nepal, Holmberg explores the production of power and the space that ritual provides for sociopolitical resistance to traditional Hindu subjugation. Holmberg provides background on the Indo-Nepali consolidation of power during state formation and the subsequent suppression of Tamang political expression. The author discusses the Tamang cultural practices of exorcism and dance skits as expressions of resistance.


Nepal

Tamang


Resistance

Power


Dance

Exorcism


Cultural anthropology

Narayan, Kirin. 1986.

Birds on a Branch: Girlfriends and Wedding Songs in Kangra. Ethos 14(1): 47-75.

Narayan focuses on the intersection of friendship, gender and social expression through the singing of wedding songs in a village in Kangra, North India. The author explores the system of support that the songs offer during life transitions for both married and unmarried women and girls. Narayan concludes that the songs provide an important temporal cohesion in the liminal friendship of women.

Keywords: India, women, wedding songs, friendship, culture, social support, cultural anthropology
Norberg-Hodge, Helena. 1991.

Ancient Futures: Learning from Ladakh. San Francisco: Sierra Club Books.

Norberg-Hodge presents the reader with a two-part vision of Ladakhi life. One of the first Westerners to live and research in Ladakh, she is able to describe life “untouched” in Ladakh prior to western style development in the region. In part two, the author paints the picture of development and its effects on spirituality, language, environment, community relations, etc. Norberg-Hodge presents an alternative version of development as carried out by the Ladakh Project which has been created to counter the culturally destructive elements of western style development while not denying the Ladakhis the right to enjoy the opportunities of economic development.
Ladakh

Culture


Environment

Development

Cultural anthropology

Pecore, Joanna. 2004.

Sounding the Spirit of Cambodia: The Living Tradition of Khmer Music and Dance Drama in a Washington, DC Community. College Park, Maryland: Dissertation in Ethnomusicology.

This dissertation discusses two Khmer communities in the Washington DC area established by refugees who fled persecution under the Khmer Rouge. Both practice traditional Khmer music and dance dramas. The author focuses the ethnography on the founding members of the group and their commitment to transmitting traditional cultural practices to future generations of Cambodian Americans. The Khmer Rouge takeover in 1975 posed a formidable threat to the traditional arts, causing many musicians and dancers to flee the country. These refugee artists hold the importance of cultivating their rich cultural practices in the face of near destruction by Pol Pot and his regime.


Washington, DC

Cambodia


Performance art

Ethnomusicology

Refugees

Cultural heritage preservation

Raheja, Gloria Goodwin and Ann Grodzins Gold. 1994.

Listen to the Heron’s Words: Re-imagining Gender and Kinship in North India. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Raheja and Gold explore women’s oral tradition in North India as a form of agency and resistance. Focusing on marriage and birth songs, stories and narratives, the authors demonstrate how the women in Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, through multiply positioned voices, recreate their identities through sexualized lyrics. The authors highlight the women’s critical perspectives on gender subordinating kinship systems. Chapters in this collection explore such topics as gender, language and resistance; women’s expressions of sexuality; and songs of irony, ambiguity and subversion.
India

Hinduism


Women

Songs


Sociolinguistics

Ritual


Performance

Resistance

Cultural anthropology

Reed, Susan. 2002.

Performing Respectability: The Beravā, Middle-Class Nationalism, and the Classicization of Kandyan Dance in Sri Lanka. Cultural Anthropology 17(2): 246-277.

Reed describes the evolution of the Kandyan dance, the national dance of Sri Lanka, from one of low caste status to one of respectability within the context of Sinhala nationalism. Reed attributes this evolution to three key factors: the “classicization” of the dance, conforming to ideals of order, the participation of key elites, and the dancers’ assertion of themselves through dress and conduct.

Sri Lanka

Dance


Nationalism

Cultural anthropology

Saul, Rebecca. 1999.

No Time to Worship the Serpent Deities: Women, Economic Change, and Religion in North Western Nepal. Gender and Development 7(1): 31-39.

Saul examines the opening of the tourist industry in Mustang district in northwest Nepal. Women are primarily in charge of running lodges and, as a result, are restricted in their ability to attend community rituals and festivals. Saul argues that while men’s mobility has increased, women’s mobility is becoming restricted, resulting in women’s limited social participation within the community and neighboring villages.
Nepal

Economic development

Tourism

Gender


Development anthropology

Sax, William. 2002.

Dancing the Self: Personhood and Performance in the Pandav Lila of Garhwal. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Sax locates his analysis of performance in Garhwal, a village in North India. The community combines dance, drama and ritual to perform the Indian epic the Mahabharata. Sax focuses on the public aspect of the ritual as a means of asserting identity and self definition within a community. He argues against the binary concepts of “self” and “other” emphasizing this particular ritual performance as a way of obfuscating perceived differences.


North India

Ritual


Identity

Cultural anthropology

Shah, Purnima. 1998.

Transcending Gender in the Performance of Kathak. Dance Research Journal 30(2): 2-16.

Shah analyzes the performance of Kathak, a classical dance from Northern India. Working within Hindu concepts of gender, Shah discusses the fluidity of male/female roles in the performance. Shah argues that gender construction in colonial Indian ideology attempted to legitimate the social order and hierarchy of power. The Kathak dancers transcend the social constructs of gender and instead underscore the ideology of “unity” or “completeness” that resonates in Hindu philosophy.
India

Kathak


Hinduism,

Gender


Anthropology of dance

Skinner, Debra, Alfred Pach, III and Dorothy Holland.1998.

Selves in Time and Place: An Introduction. In Selves in Time and Place: Identities, Experience and History in Nepal. Debra Skinner, Alfred Pach III and Dorothy Holland, eds. Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers.

The authors provide an introduction to, and overview of, this volume of collected essays that focus on agency in various contexts in Nepal. Framed by the political revolution in 1990, the authors center on sociopolitical transformations and how those transformations are manifested in various representations and performances of identity in specific places and spaces in time. They emphasize the use of cultural resources, such as song production and children’s readers, in creative ways to produce new understandings of identity in response to new political and social circumstances.

Keywords: Nepal, identity, sociopolitical movements, cultural protest, cultural resources, cultural anthropology
Trawick, Margaret. 1988.

Spirits and Voices in Tamil Songs. American Ethnologist 15: 193-215.

Trawick focuses on “untouchable” women agricultural laborers in Tamil Nadu, India. Women construct songs that question hierarchal and social relations, in particular Trawick centers her discussion on the love song. Central to her argument is a thesis of polyvocality; each actor sings from different spaces as opposed to expressing one independent voice.
South India

Tamil women

Folk songs

Love


Social commentary

Cultural anthropology

Vatuk, Ved Prakash and Sylvia Vatuk. 1979.

The Ethnography of Sang, A North Indian Folk Opera. In Studies in Indian Folk Traditions. Ved Prakash Vatuk and Sylvia Vatuk, eds. Pp. 15-37. New Delhi: Manohar Publications.

The authors discuss the mutual development of folk and literary traditions in North India and their eventual congruence in the form of a folk opera accessible to the masses. They are interested in the sang performance as an “instrument of communication” in the rural setting. A sang troupe travels throughout the village and to nearby villages to perform on various occasions.
North India

Folk tradition

Communication

Performance

Cultural anthropology

Weidman, Amanda. 2003.

Gender and the Politics of Voice: Colonial Modernity and Classical Music in South India. Cultural Anthropology 18(2): 194-232.

This article explores the historical moment where upper caste Brahmin women in South India began to publicly perform classical music in the early 20th century. The author addresses the intersection of voice, subjectivity and agency among women of different castes. Weidman specifically locates the relationship of classical songs to upper class Indian women through their definition of “respectability”.


India

Karnatic music

Gender

Voice


Cultural change

Caste


Cultural anthropology

Cultural Risk Theory and the Survival Strategy of Breaking Maternal Bonds
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