• Winner, 2015 Michelle Rosaldo Book Prize, presented by the Feminist Anthropology Section of the American Anthropological Association

  • Given to the Goddess: South Indian Devadasis and the Sexuality of Religion

    Author(s):
    Pages: 296
    Illustrations: 25 illustrations
    Sales/Territorial Rights: World
  • Cloth: $94.95 - In Stock
    978-0-8223-5710-0
  • Paperback: $25.95 - In Stock
    978-0-8223-5724-7
  • Quantity
  • Add To Bag
  • Acknowledgments ix

    Introduction: Gods, Gifts, Trouble 1

    Part I. Gods

    1. Yellamma and Her Sisters: Kinship among Goddesses and Others 39

    2. Yellamma, Her Wives, and the Question of Religion 71

    Part II. Gifts

    3. Tantra, Shakta, Yellamma 113

    4. The Giving of Daughters: Sexual Economy, Sexual Agency, and the "Traffic" in Women 142

    Part III. Trouble

    5. Kinship Trouble 181

    6. Troubling Kinship 213

    Notes 223

    Glossary 247

    Bibliography 251

    Index 270
  • Honorable Mention, 2016 Bernard S. Cohen Book Prize, presented by the Association for Asian Studies

    Winner, 2015 Clifford Geertz Prize in the Anthropology of Religion, presented by the Society for the Anthropology of Religion

    Winner, 2015 Michelle Rosaldo Book Prize, presented by the Feminist Anthropology Section of the American Anthropological Association

    Winner, 2015 Ruth Benedict Prize, presented by the Association for Queer Anthropology

  • “This excellent book makes a significant contribution to religion and kinship, gender, sexuality, and South Asian studies…. Highly recommended.”

    “This is a beautifully written and theoretically engaged ethnography about a community whose past has been fraught and whose future lies in the balance. It would be appropriate reading for upper-level undergraduate and graduate courses and makes an important contribution to the anthropology of gender, sexuality, kinship, religion, and modernity in India.”

    "We must dwell with, as Given to the Goddess gracefully does, the everyday experiences of devotion, exchange, and one’s social relationship to another—human, nonhuman, or even goddess—that make us, quite simply, kin."

    "Ramberg’s work exemplifies an extraordinary synthesis of animated empiricism and theoretical rigor. It is heartening to mark the arrival of this very important work that signals a critical departure in several ways."

    Awards

  • Honorable Mention, 2016 Bernard S. Cohen Book Prize, presented by the Association for Asian Studies

    Winner, 2015 Clifford Geertz Prize in the Anthropology of Religion, presented by the Society for the Anthropology of Religion

    Winner, 2015 Michelle Rosaldo Book Prize, presented by the Feminist Anthropology Section of the American Anthropological Association

    Winner, 2015 Ruth Benedict Prize, presented by the Association for Queer Anthropology

  • Reviews

  • “This excellent book makes a significant contribution to religion and kinship, gender, sexuality, and South Asian studies…. Highly recommended.”

    “This is a beautifully written and theoretically engaged ethnography about a community whose past has been fraught and whose future lies in the balance. It would be appropriate reading for upper-level undergraduate and graduate courses and makes an important contribution to the anthropology of gender, sexuality, kinship, religion, and modernity in India.”

    "We must dwell with, as Given to the Goddess gracefully does, the everyday experiences of devotion, exchange, and one’s social relationship to another—human, nonhuman, or even goddess—that make us, quite simply, kin."

    "Ramberg’s work exemplifies an extraordinary synthesis of animated empiricism and theoretical rigor. It is heartening to mark the arrival of this very important work that signals a critical departure in several ways."

  • "The ethnographic data that Lucinda Ramberg obtained while living with the devadasis is unique. The conversations she relates bring much-needed nuance to representations of these women. Ramberg insists that anthropologists need to take the religious lives of the devadasis seriously. For scholars of South Asia, her most interesting contribution is likely her masterful rethinking of theoretical models of kinship in India."
    — Joyce Flueckiger, author of When the World Becomes Female: Guises of a South Indian Goddess

    "Lucinda Ramberg has written a book that charts new conceptual terrain in the anthropology of South Asia. Given to the Goddess indicts both liberal reformism and secular progressivism for their investment in an all too-easy politics of gender that occludes the power (and experience) of stigmatized sexuality. Instead, Ramberg shows how practices coded as anachronistic, or coerced, constitute the conditions of possibility for capacious, non-individuated accounts of sexed agency. This is an exquisite ethnography of the queer embodiments and ritual imaginaries by which women come to be 'given to the goddess.'" — Anupama Rao, author of The Caste Question: Dalits and the Politics of Modern India

    "Lucinda Ramberg's powerful combination of ethnographic observation and theoretical reflection connects the study of a particular social group in South India (devadasis or jogatis) with general issues in anthropology and feminist and queer studies. Given to the Goddess will prove relevant to those, such as myself, who know very little about India but who are concerned with related issues in different contexts." — √Čric Fassin, Universit√© Paris-8

    "A compassionate and rigorous account of the much reviled and celebrated figure of the devadasi, Lucinda Ramberg's book analyzes the central role women's sexuality continues to play in religious and secular political orders. Rather than diagnose this as a moral problem, the author forces us to rethink how the biopolitical state has transformed both religion and sexuality in modern India."
    — Saba Mahmood, author of Politics of Piety: The Islamic Revival and the Feminist Subject

  • Permission to Photocopy (coursepacks)

    If you are requesting permission to photocopy material for classroom use, please contact the Copyright Clearance Center at copyright.com;

    If the Copyright Clearance Center cannot grant permission, you may request permission from our Copyrights & Permissions Manager (use Contact Information listed below).

    Permission to Reprint

    If you are requesting permission to reprint DUP material (journal or book selection) in another book or in any other format, contact our Copyrights & Permissions Manager (use Contact Information listed below).

    Images/Art

    Many images/art used in material copyrighted by Duke University Press are controlled, not by the Press, but by the owner of the image. Please check the credit line adjacent to the illustration, as well as the front and back matter of the book for a list of credits. You must obtain permission directly from the owner of the image. Occasionally, Duke University Press controls the rights to maps or other drawings. Please direct permission requests for these images to permissions@dukeupress.edu.
    For book covers to accompany reviews, please contact the publicity department.

    Subsidiary Rights/Foreign Translations

    If you're interested in a Duke University Press book for subsidiary rights/translations, please contact permissions@dukeupress.edu. Include the book title/author, rights sought, and estimated print run.

    Disability Requests

    Instructions for requesting an electronic text on behalf of a student with disabilities are available here.

    Rights & Permissions Contact Information

    Email: permissions@dukeupress.edu
    Email contact for coursepacks: asstpermissions@dukeupress.edu
    Fax: 919-688-4574
    Mail:
    Duke University Press
    Rights and Permissions
    905 W. Main Street
    Suite 18B
    Durham, NC 27701

    For all requests please include:
    1. Author's name. If book has an editor that is different from the article author, include editor's name also.
    2. Title of the journal article or book chapter and title of journal or title of book
    3. Page numbers (if excerpting, provide specifics)
    For coursepacks, please also note: The number of copies requested, the school and professor requesting
    For reprints and subsidiary rights, please also note: Your volume title, publication date, publisher, print run, page count, rights sought
  • Description

    Who and what are marriage and sex for? Whose practices and which ways of talking to god can count as religion? Lucinda Ramberg considers these questions based upon two years of ethnographic research on an ongoing South Indian practice of dedication in which girls, and sometimes boys, are married to a goddess. Called devadasis, or jogatis, those dedicated become female and male women who conduct the rites of the goddess outside the walls of her main temple and transact in sex outside the bounds of conjugal matrimony. Marriage to the goddess, as well as the rites that the dedication ceremony authorizes jogatis to perform, have long been seen as illegitimate and criminalized. Kinship with the goddess is productive for the families who dedicate their children, Ramberg argues, and yet it cannot conform to modern conceptions of gender, family, or religion. This nonconformity, she suggests, speaks to the limitations of modern categories, as well as to the possibilities of relations—between and among humans and deities—that exceed such categories.

    About The Author(s)

    Lucinda Ramberg is Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology and the Program in Feminist, Gender & Sexuality Studies at Cornell University.
Explore More
Share

Create a reading list or add to an existing list. Sign-in or register now to continue.


Contact Us

  • Duke University Press
  • 905 W. Main St. Ste 18-B
  • Durham, NC 27701
  • U.S. phone (toll-free): 888-651-0122
  • International: 1-919-688-5134
  • orders@dukeupress.edu