Aging, gender and widowhood: Perspectives from rural West Bengal
AbstractThis paper explores widowhood in rural West Bengal from the perspective of age. Although widowhood in India has grabbed the attention of scholars and social reformers for a good century now, 1 the focus of this attention has been (usually without explicitly acknowledg ing it) on women widowed at a relatively young age. Debates over widow remarriage, the perceived dangers of a widow's sexuality, a young widow's anomalous childlessness etc., all—it turns out—have to do largely with the social and economic concerns surround ing young widows. For the many women widowed in late life, the social expectations and dilemmas faced are significantly different. Scrutinising such differences not only helps us understand widowhood in India better, but sheds valuable light on local constructions of gender, sexuality and age.