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Is the Goddess a Feminist?: The Politics of South Asian Goddesses

by and

Is the Goddess a Feminist?: The Politics of South Asian Goddesses Cover

ISBN13: 9780814736197
ISBN10: 081473619x
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

In India, God can be female. The goddesses of Hinduism and Buddhism represent the largest extant collection of living goddesses anywhere on the planet. Feminists in the West often draw upon South Asian goddesses as theological resources in the contemporary rediscovery of the Goddess. Yet, these goddesses are products of a male supremacist society.

What is the impact of powerful female deities--their images, projections, textuality, and history--on the social standing and psychological health of women? Do they empower women, or serve the interests of patriarchal culture? Is the Goddess a Feminist? looks at the goddesses of South Asia to address these questions directly.

Not a book about a single goddess or even about a variety of South Asian goddesses, the volume raises questions about images of deities as symbols and the ways in which they function. Contributors discuss contemporary Indian women who have embraced goddesses as spiritually and socially liberating, as well as the seeming contradictions between the power of Indian goddesses and the lives of Indian women. They also explore such topics as the element of male desire in the embodiment of female deities, the question of who speaks for the goddesses, and the politics and theology of Western feminist use of Hindu and Buddhist goddesses as models for their feminist reflections.

Synopsis:

This Major Reference series brings together a wide range of key international articles in law and legal theory. Many of these essays are not readily accessible, and their presentation in these volumes will provide a vital new resource for both research and teaching. Each volume is edited by leading international authorities who explain the significance and context of articles in an informative and complete introduction.

About the Author

ALF HILTEBEITEL is Professor of Religion and Director of the Human Sciences Program at George Washington University. His books include Rethinking India's Oral and Classical Epics: Draupad.

KATHLEEN M. ERNDL is Associate Professor of Religion at Florida State University and author of Victory to the Mother: The Hindu Goddess of Northwest India in Myth, Ritual, and Symbol.

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Daniel Raphael, April 17, 2006 (view all comments by Daniel Raphael)
This is the first of several texts I have recently undertaken to read about the goddess Kali and Her Tantric origins. This book is a compendium of essays by academic experts, with the one exception being a woman's story of her unintended encounter with Kali. The authors are all in varying degrees afflicted with the current preferred style of High Cocktail Party chatter, i.e., postmodernist BLAP. For those unfamiliar with postmod jargon and references, something will be lost in the process of reading; however, the more valuable essays are unsurprisingly those less afflicted with self-valorizing cant, and most of the authors are readily accessible to what used to be called "the informed layman."

The responses to the book's title question are variable; most give a yes-and-no/depends-on-what-you-mean conclusion, and a few give the classic postmod line that if those who worship Kali (the goddess most often mentioned in this book) are feminists, then She will be a feminist; if not, then not. If you want to accept that gods (of whatever gender) are simply "constructed" by their worshippers, then you have there the answer most congenial to you.

I should add that my strong impression is that most of these authors are neither devotees of Kali nor religious in any sense that I am able to discern. There are exceptions, but these academics' concern is not for sacredness but its sociology. They do a reasonably good job of "situating" the gods in Indian culture, and the psychoanalytic explanation of Kali's role in the psyche of many Indian men seems plausible. Whether it is true, is another matter--unless, of course, truth is simply a chimerical notion best dismissed via intake of yet another cocktail.

In sum, my recommendation is that if you are a seeker with serious religious questions, this book will be largely a waste. If, however, you want to get a taste of what academics in the field are writing and their analysis of classic vedic texts, this book may very well be worth your time.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780814736197
Subtitle:
The Politics of South Asian Goddesses
Editor:
Hiltebeitel, Alf
Editor:
Hiltebeitel, Alf
Editor:
Erndl, Kathleen M.
Author:
Fujikura, Koichiro
Author:
Erndl, Kathleen M.
Author:
Hiltebeitel, Alf
Editor:
Erndl, Kathleen M.
Publisher:
NYU Press
Location:
New York
Subject:
Eastern
Subject:
Hinduism
Subject:
Buddhism
Subject:
Feminism
Subject:
Goddesses
Subject:
Buddhism - General
Subject:
Eastern - General
Subject:
Hinduism - General
Subject:
Folklore & Mythology
Subject:
FEMINISM_RELIGIOUS ASPECTS
Subject:
Women
Subject:
S STUDIES_SOUTH EAST ASIA
Subject:
DEVOTIONAL THEOLOGY AND OBJECTS OF VENERATION_SOUTH EAST ASIA
Subject:
Women's Studies
Subject:
Feminism -- Religious aspects.
Subject:
Goddesses -- India.
Subject:
Religion-Eastern - General
Subject:
International
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Series Volume:
no. 34 =
Publication Date:
20001101
Binding:
Paperback
Language:
English
Pages:
287
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in

Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Feminist Studies » General
History and Social Science » Feminist Studies » World Feminism
Religion » Eastern Religions » General

Is the Goddess a Feminist?: The Politics of South Asian Goddesses
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Product details 287 pages New York University Press - English 9780814736197 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , This Major Reference series brings together a wide range of key international articles in law and legal theory. Many of these essays are not readily accessible, and their presentation in these volumes will provide a vital new resource for both research and teaching. Each volume is edited by leading international authorities who explain the significance and context of articles in an informative and complete introduction.
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