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Ethos

The Making and Unmaking of Persons: Notes on Aging and Gender in North India

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Abstract

This article explores aging and gender as dimensions ofpersonhood in West Bengal, India. The work of aging requires unravelling bodily and emotional ties (maya) to people, places, and things, even though these ties feel compellingly stronger and more numerous as life progresses. Women differ from men in that their connections are unmade and remade at a greater number of critical junctures in their lives, not only through aging and dying, but also in marriage and widowhood. This focus on aging and gender suggests a move beyond those models of South Asian personhood that tend to be static, degendered, and based on too sharp a dichotomy between East and West, to a more nuanced understanding of the plural and evolving nature of personhood conceptions over the life course.

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