Srimati Basu

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Ph.D., Ohio State University
M.A., Purdue University
B.A. Presidency College, Calcutta University

Srimati Basu is Associate Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies and Anthropology, and a member of the Committee on Social Theory and the Asia Center Affiliates. She has an Interdisciplinary Ph.D. from Ohio State University in Cultural Studies/ Anthropology/ Women's Studies, and her teaching, research and community work interests include Legal Anthropology, Women in Development, Feminist Jurisprudence, South Asia, Feminist Theory and Methodology, Work, Property and Violence Against Women. Her principal present project, Managing Marriage: Family Law and Family Violence in India, is an ethnographic study of lawyer-free courts, domestic violence and forum-shopping, engaging with debates on rape and marriage, kinship in the postcolonial State, mediation and violence, and transnational engagements with family law reform. For 2013-14, she is a Fulbright-Nehru Research Fellow conducting fieldwork in India.

Dr. Basu's research on Indian women and inheritance laws has been published in She Comes to Take Her Rights: Indian Women, Property and Propriety (SUNY Press, 1999), and she is also the editor of the Dowry and Inheritance volume in the Kali for Women series Issues in Indian Feminism. Her forthcoming monograph The Trouble with Marriage: Family, Law and Feminist Interventions in Contemporary India deals with marriage, divorce, violence and mediation, based in part on ethnographic observation of family courts, police stations, and mediation sessions.

Some other pieces on property, law, marriage, violence and popular culture appear in anthologies including Sexuality Studies: Oxford India Studies in Contemporary Society (2013), New South Asian Feminisms: Paradoxes and Possibilities (2012), Negotiating Spaces:  Legal Domains, Gender Concerns and Community Constructs (2012), Histories of Intimacy and Situated Ethnography (2010), Dowry: Bridging the Gap Between Theory and Practice, (2010), Gender At Work In Economic Life (2003), Signposts: Gender in Post-Independence India (1999), and Religion and Personal Law in India (2001), and in journals including Signs, Feminist Studies, Frontiers, International Feminist Journal of Politics, Law Culture and Humanities, Feminist Media Studies, and Journal of Legal Pluralism. Dr. Basu also writes for the Ms. Magazine blog and has written for India Today.




She Comes to Take Her Rights: Indian Women, Property and Propriety. Albany, NY: SUNY Press,  March 1999; New Delhi: Kali for Women, 2001.

.---., ed. 2005. Issues in Indian Feminism: Dowry and Inheritance. Series: Issues in Indian Feminism; Series Editor: Rajeswari Sunder Rajan. New Delhi: Women Unlimited; London: Zed Books.

Selected Journal Articles:

“Judges of Normality:  Mediating Marriage in the Family Courts of Kolkata, India” Signs 37.2 (2012): 469-492.

“Impossible Translation: Beyond the Legal Body in Two South Asian Family Courts” Law, Culture and Humanities 7.3 (2011): 358-375.

“Sexual Property: Staging Rape and Marriage in Indian Law and Feminist Theory” Feminist Studies 37.1 (Spring 2011): 185-211.

“V is for Veil, V is for Ventriloquism: Global Feminisms in the Vagina Monologues,”  Frontiers: A Journal of Women’s Studies, 31.1 (2010): 31-62.

“Separate and Unequal:  Muslim Women, Women’s Movements and Un-uniform Family Law in India” Special issue of International Feminist Journal of Politics on “Engaging Islam: Feminisms, Religiosities, at Self-Determinations” 10.4 (2008): 495-517.

“Playing Off Courts: The Negotiation of Divorce and Violence in Plural Legal Settings in Kolkata, India” Journal of Legal Pluralism and Unofficial Law 52 (2007): 41-75. Cited in International Council on Human Rights Policy: Report on Legal Pluralism, Human Rights and State & Non-State Law (2009).

“Shading the Secular: Law at Work in The Indian Higher Courts.” Cultural Dynamics, 15.2 (2003): 131-152.

“The Blunt Cutting Edge: The Construction of Sexuality in the Bengali ‘Feminist’ Magazine Sananda.” Feminist Media Studies 1.2 (2001): 179-196.

“The Bleeding Edge: Resistance as Strength and Paralysis” (Special Issue on Feminism and the Politics of Resistance) Indian Journal of Gender Studies 7.2 (2000): 185-202.

“Cutting to Size: Property and Gendered Identity In the Indian Higher Courts.” Thamyris:Mythmaking from Past to Present (Special Issue on “Gender in the Making in Contemporary India,” guest edited by Rajeswari Sunder Rajan). 4.1 (1997): 41-72.

Selected Book Chapters:

“Dreaming a Better Court for Women: Adjudication and Subjectivity in the Family Courts of Kolkata, India,” in Marrying in South Asia: Shifting Concepts, Changing Practices in a Globalising World, ed. Rajni Palriwala and Ravinder Kaur. New Delhi: Orient Black Swan, 2013.

"Beyond Equivalence: Body and Language in Family Courts" in Sexuality Studies: Oxford India Studies in Contemporary Society ed. Sanjay Srivastava, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2013;j...

“Family Law Organizations and the Mediation of Resources and Violence in Kolkata, India” in New South Asian Feminisms: Paradoxes and Possibilities ed. Srila Roy London: Zed Books, 2012.

“Playing off Courts: The Negotiation of Divorce and Violence in Plural Legal Settings in Kolkata” in Contesting Nation: Gendered Violence in South Asia: Notes on the Postcolonial Present ed. Angana Chatterji and Lubna Chaudhry, New Delhi: Zubaan 2012; Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2013.

 “Beyond Property Refusal: Indian Women’s Discourses of Inheritance” in Negotiating Spaces:  Legal Domains, Gender Concerns and Community Constructs ed. Flavia Agnes. New Delhi: Oxford University Press India, 2012.

“The Legal Structures of Kinship: Re-Working Affinity, Residence and Entitlement in the Kolkata Family Court” in Histories of Intimacy and Situated Ethnography ed. Karen Isaksen Leonard, Gayatri Reddy, and Ann Grodzins Gold. New Delhi: Manohar Publications, 2010.

"Transformations of Dowry in Contemporary India: Marriage Practices and Feminist Discourses," in Dowry: Bridging the Gap between Theory and Practice, ed. Tamsin Bradley, Emma Tomalin and Mangala Subramanian. London: Zed Books, 2010.

“Dower Systems” Oxford Encyclopedia of Women in World History, ed. Bonnie G. Smith, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2007 December.

“Refracted Light: Teaching In an Antique Land.” in Amitav Ghosh: Critical Perspectives, ed. Brinda Bose, New Delhi: Pencraft International, 2002.

“"Describing the Body: The Writing of Sex and Gender Identity for the Contemporary Bengali Woman." In Confronting the Body: The Politics of Physicality in Colonial and Postcolonial India, ed. Jim Mills and Satadru Sen, Anthem Press (London), 2003.

“Why Would She Fight Her Family? Indian Women’s Negotiations of Discourses of Inheritance.” In Gender At Work In Economic Life, ed. Gracia Clark. Society for Economic Anthropology Monograph Series, Altamira Press, 2003.

"Sananda and the Discourse of Sexuality: Claiming Transgression." Translating Desire: The Construction of Gender and Sexuality in Contemporary India, ed. Brinda Bose, New Delhi: Katha Press, 2002.

“The Personal and the Political: Indian women and Inheritance Law.” In Religion and Personal Law in India, ed. Gerald Larsen. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2001.

“Cutting to Size: Property and Gendered Identity In the Indian Higher Courts.” In  Signposts: Gender in Post-Independence India, ed. Rajeswari Sunder Rajan. New Delhi: Kali for Women, 1999; New Brunswick: Rutgers UP, 2000.

Selected Awards

Fulbright-Nehru Core Research Fellowship to India, 2013-14.

American Institute for Indian Studies Senior Research Fellowship,2013-14 (declined).

Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Residency Award, September-October 2010.

Ms. Scholar: Ms. Magazine Writer’s Workshop Scholarship, 2009.

Ida B. Wells-Barnett Award for Service to the Women's Studies Program, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, 1994.

The Ohio State University Presidential Fellowship, 1993-1994.

Woodrow Wilson Research Grant In Women's Studies, 1993

Selected Popular Pieces:


"Portable No-Fusion"

"Beyond Violence"

Ms. Magazine Online:

Six Reasons to be wary of Death penalty for Delhi Rapists

In India or US, No Safe Haven from Gender Violence

Rites of Gun Passage

Click! My Grandmother's Resistance (as part of Bitch Media/ Ms. Magazine blog carnival in honor of Feminist Coming Out Day)

Marriage, Unnatural in Every Way

"On March 8, Bouquets or Marches?"

Can Women Office Holders Really Change India?

India Today:

 “Adultery: Those Close Encounters” Part of Cover Story “Sexy Secrets: Sex Survey 2008” India Today December 1, 2008: 44-49.

Hindustan Times:

with Brinda Bose, "A Risky Formulation" November 5 2012


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