'Daughters are Just Like Sons Now': Negotiating Kin-work and Property Regimes in Kolkata Middle-class Families

Donner, Henrike. 2015. 'Daughters are Just Like Sons Now': Negotiating Kin-work and Property Regimes in Kolkata Middle-class Families. Journal of South Asian Development, 10(3), pp. 318-344. ISSN 0973-1741 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Special Issue: Revisiting Urban Property in India edited by Geert De Neve and Henrike Donner

This article draws on two decades of fieldwork with middle-class families in Kolkata, India. It addresses property regimes with reference to inter-generational and gender relations, which leave women in an ambiguous situation with regard to ownership rights. Focusing on genealogies of different middle-class homes, the article examines how women’s rights in housing continue to be mediated through the joint family ideal and patrilocality. Whilst new influence the middle-class imagination, talk about ‘homeownership’ does not necessarily reflect the realities of middle-class family life. Paying particular attention to the role of women at different lifestages, I argue that the current re-imagining of middle-class femininity through ‘modern homes’ remains deeply embedded in earlier discourses of the ideal family, the related residential patterns and modes of property transmission as well as domesticities. This draws attention to the way women can gain as demographic change favours single daughters as heirs to homeowners. Focusing on the family and women’s roles within it allows us to study how real estate markets are experienced from the bottom up and provides genealogical depth to an understanding of different forms of ‘modern’ middle-class homes in the city.

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Property; Gender; Kolkata; Middle-Class; Family Change

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1 December 2015Accepted
10 December 2015Published

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Date Deposited:

14 Dec 2015 15:00

Last Modified:

02 Mar 2021 14:01

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.



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