Book launch of Dr. Vanaja Dhruvarajan’s “Crossing the Laxman Rekha: One Woman’s Struggles Against Gender, Racial, and Ethnic Bias”
The “Laxman Rekha,” from the ancient Indian epic Ramayana, was a line drawn to protect Prince Rama’s wife, Sita, from the dangers of the outside world. In Hindu culture today, the notion of the Laxman Rekha has shifted from protecting women to actually circumscribing their conduct; it has become a metaphor for the proper behavior of Hindu women.
Women have always struggled to stretch these boundaries so as to enjoy more autonomy. This book is about one woman’s struggle to transcend the multiple constraints placed on her due to gender, racial, and ethnic biases—from her 1940s childhood in India, to her working and mothering years in the US, Canada, and India from the 1970s to today. Dr. Dhruvarajan’s story also draws parallels between the pains and pleasures experienced by other women of that era, when gender roles were in flux around the world. It was an exciting time, but it was also rife with disappointment. It seemed that for every successful attempt to push past the metaphorical Laxman Rekha, there was a price to pay—and women paid it.
But human nature is resilient. Author Vanaja Dhruvarajan’s story of upheaval and hope—of courage in the face of continual censure and discrimination—opens a window on what it means to survive crossing the Laxman Rekha.
Bio: Vanaja Dhruvarajan is an Adjunct Professor at Carleton University. A native of Bangalore, India, she completed her BA in India and her Master’s and PhD at the University of Chicago. She has done research in India and Canada and has published several books and articles, including Hindu Women and the Power of Ideology, and Gender, Race and Nation: A Global Perspective, coauthored with Jill Vickers. Besides serving as the president of the Canadian Sociology and Anthropology Association, and the Canadian Women’s Studies Association, she held the Ruth Wynn Woodward Chair of Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia.
This event is presented by the Centre for Feminist Research and the York Centre for Asian Research and is co-sponsored by Department of Equity Studies and the School of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies.