Women and Work in Precolonial India

A Reader

Edited by Vijaya Ramaswamy


Sage, 2016

Language: English

446 pages

Price INR 1,195
Book Club Price INR 1,015

A compilation of ancient Indian texts with feminist perspectives on women’s work


A compilation of ancient Indian texts with feminist perspectives on women’s work

Women and work is an important dimension of the ongoing debate on gender parity. This book is a compilation of essays related to traditional perceptions of women’s work juxtaposed with recent feminist writings on women’s space in India’s labour history. The essays highlight the points and counterpoints of the ongoing debate on the nature, quantification and monetary valuation of women’s work.

Beginning with writings on the theme of women and work, and going on to historically plot women’s agency in labour processes, this book seeks to provide a panoramic survey of women and work in precolonial India. It is an endeavour to salvage the available data on women’s work—paid and unpaid as well as visible and less visible—in order to highlight their contribution and indicate the changes in women’s labour history.

Vijaya Ramaswamy

Vijaya Ramaswamy is Professor and Chairperson, Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University. She is an alumni of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, and was a Fulbright Fellow at the University of California, Berkeley, California, in 1988–1989. She was a teacher-fellow on an Indo-Canadian Fellowship at York University, Ontario, Canada, in 1998. She was also a Fellow at the Indian Institute of Advanced Study between 1992 and 1995. She was also a Senior Fellow at the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, Teen Murti House, New Delhi from 2012 to 2014.

Vijaya Ramaswamy is the author of 10 books amongst which the best known are: Textiles and Weavers in Medieval South India (1985, 2nd ed. 2006), Divinity and Deviance: Women in Virasaivism (1996); Walking Naked: Women, Society, Spirituality in South India (1997, 2007), Historical Dictionary of the Tamils (2007), Song of the Loom (2013) and Migrations in Medieval and Early Colonial India (2016). Vijaya has been the President of the Medieval India Section of the 63rd Indian History Congress Session at Mysore, 2003. She also won the ‘Professor Hiralal Gupta Research Award’ for the Best Book by a Woman Historian for the years 1996–2001, Indian History Congress, 60th Session, Bhopal, 2001.