Week 4 – “Representing Sati” Rajan

October 20, 2007

Rajan refers to Ashis Nandy’s suggestion “that the sudden and major changes brought about by colonial rule produced effects of alienation in the Hindu male, and that the strong defense of sati advanced by some members of the indigenous male elite was an attempt to recover its identity by enforcing traditional patriarchal norms” (176). That is, because the Hindu men were being oppressed, they latched on to whatever was left of their own culture–in this instance, sati. This suggestion reminds me of what I’ve been commenting on about the situation of Jewish oppression under Roman imperialism. The Pharisees held so fiercely to the rules of the law in order to preserve something of their own culture from the Romans. Likewise, Hindu men defended and continued to enforce the practice of sati because it was something unique to their culture. Just like the law was not influencing Jewish culture positively (it was breeding hypocrisy), so sati in actual practice was a form of patriarchal oppression of Hindu women. Blind to the implications of sati on the women in their culture, the Hindu men could see only the efforts of white imperialism to erase one more aspect of Hindu culture.

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