SOAS Research Online

A Free Database of the Latest Research by SOAS Academics and PhD Students

[skip to content]

Thompson, Catherine Susannah (1984) Ritual states in the lifecycles of Hindu women in a village of Central India. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

[img] PDF - Submitted Version
Download (22MB)


The thesis describes the ritual states women are in at different stages in their lives and examines these states in terms of their significance as expressions of gender ideology. It is based on the findings of fieldwork conducted in a village in the Malwa region of Central India, and supplemented with references to other work on the region and to studies of other regions of the sub-continent. The varying ritual states looked at together with statements from informants and observations of female behaviour express the social construction of what it is to be female. The way in which female sexuality is represented is discussed. An analysis of the material suggests that sexuality is separated into two aspects: one which can be called 'social' and which is positively evaluated and one which is called 'physical' which is negatively evaluated. These aspects are expressed in different ritual states but the links between them lead to an understanding of the alterations in a woman's ritual states and to an overall view of woman's powers in relation to the sacred. Women's ritual states are also closely associated with their position in the kinship system. Positive aspects of their femaleness are usually expressed unequivocally with regard to their natal kin but their ritual states with regard to their conjugal kin are more ambiguous. On occasion the negative aspects of femaleness are expressed ritually by a woman being regarded as polluting and dangerous.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 14:59

Altmetric Data


Download activity - last 12 monthsShow export options
Downloads since deposit
6 month trend
6 month trend
Accesses by country - last 12 monthsShow export options
Accesses by referrer - last 12 monthsShow export options

Repository staff only

Edit Item Edit Item