The Gift of a Bride: A Tale of Anthropology, Matrimony and Murder First Edition by Serena Nanda (Author), Joan Gregg (Author)


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This ethnographically based murder mystery is set within New York City’s Indian community. A young Indian woman’s arranged marriage brings her to the city to join her husband shortly after her wedding. The plot unfolds as the couple copes with joint family living, sexual and financial issues, and hostile neighbors. Central to the mystery are the cultural conflicts affecting both men and women negotiating the differences between American society and their own traditional upbringings. A major theme of the book is violence against women as this plays out both within domestic situations and through the gender inequalities of Indian and American society. Supportive characters such as an anthropology professor, an Indian detective and his American sidekick, a young, assimilated Indian neighbor, and an established family elder reveal various aspects of immigrant life. Through this rich, exciting and ethnographically detailed foray into one particular community, the reader learns about arranging a marriage, Hindu weddings and festivals, and the rich psychological motivations of culturally-patterned behavior of both immigrant men and women. The main principles of cultural anthropology and ethnographic method are woven into the novel, making it a compelling read in a wide range of undergraduate and graduate courses. Read more

Review Let me start by saying that I loved the manuscript and would most certainly use it in a class of cultural anthropology. I would also use it in my gender class as well. The authors have written a remarkable work. It works on so many levels that it is hard to adequately express my enthusiasm. The book has many strengths. It presents the field of anthropology in a careful, useful, and interesting manner. Using fictitious classroom presentations, lectures and discussion, as a way of introducing materials and subject matter of the book, is excellent. Having a murder plot unfold in multiple ways, with a constant eye on multiple cultural dimensions is also excellent. Keeping the plot line alive, exciting and to the point, continues this excellence. The authors have mastered the art of story telling, plot advancement, readability and line continuity. I literally could not put it down. It can truthfully be described as a page turner. It is refreshingly unique, creative, interesting and captivating. In anthropology, in this day and age, that is remarkable. — Barbara Joans, Merritt CollegeThis fictional ethnography of Indian marital beliefs and customs paints a strong contrast between American notions of individual choice and freedom of decisions versus the strong web of social and familial obligations to which Indians must attend. The reader is exposed to an intense level of Indian extended family involvement in and concern about marital decisions and woes, which stands in strong contrast to American notions of the marital relationship being a private affair between partners. ― Association for Feminist Anthropology About the Author Serena Nanda is professor emeritus of anthropology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY. Joan Gregg is professor emeritus of English at New York City Technical College, CUNY.

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