Gender Negotiations among Indians in Trinidad 1917–1947 by P. Mohammed

By P. Mohammed

This ebook is set the struggles of male and female descendants of Indian indentured migrants in Trinidad within the first 1/2 the 20th century, each one intending to defend a few facets of the gender procedure introduced from India among 1845 and 1917, which have been vital to their persisted definition of ethnic id and neighborhood in Trinidad. whilst the location of migration makes it possible for demanding situations to the caste approach of Hinduism and, for girls and a few males, new possibilities to confront the extra limiting point of Indian patriarchy which them around the seas from India.

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By 1917, there were few women and men in a position to articulate full-blooded nationalist sentiments like those being spouted in India. Nor was there a large group of middle-class educated men and women to provide leadership and ideas for community and gender relations. Much of this rested on the backs of the few educated men and on the male Hindu pundits and Muslim imams. Although the ideas and influences in India had an impact on Trinidad, therefore, there was a distinctive internal process at work.

Negotiations in gender, as Abrams illustrates, are both obvious and less apparent. Given their subordinate status in relation to male patriarchal control of institutions and gender ideology, women invariably negotiate within their domestic spaces for changes which will improve the 14 Chapter 1 conditions of their lives and that of their families. Not all women do so and not all situations can be resolved with some degree of harmony. My argument in this book is premised around the notion that, despite the oppressive conditions under which women may live in any dominant patriarchy, ideologies and practices shift under pressure and the pressure points applied by women in general come from the spheres in which they have some measure of control, for instance the importance of their labour, reproduction, family life and sexuality.

In reality, women worked at reshaping their marriages into more companionate lines, using the divorce court where this was available to end their marriages. The state had, at this time, not caught up with the changes in either the demands of women or the changing nature of marriage relations itself, and the legal system still functioned on the basis that the individual needs of women were secondary to retaining a bourgeois ideal of marital stability. Negotiations in gender, as Abrams illustrates, are both obvious and less apparent.

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