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Contradictory LivesBaul Women in India and Bangladesh$
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Lisa I. Knight

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199773541

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199773541.001.0001

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“Real Bauls Live under Trees”

“Real Bauls Live under Trees”

Imaginings and the Marginalization of Baul Women

(p.27) 2 “Real Bauls Live under Trees”
Contradictory Lives

Lisa I. Knight

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses scholarly and bhadralok (Bengali elite) discourses about Bauls, particularly concerning their portrayals (and omissions) of women. These discourses construct Baul authenticity as unencumbered by societal concerns: without home or care, childless, and utterly consumed by spiritual goals. These discourses tend also to be shared by potential patrons, who then hire Bauls whom they believe meet those public expectations. While these discourses reveal a pervasive view about what is considered to be a good or a “real” Baul, they also marginalize Baul women and contribute to the stigmatization of them as “bad” by emphasizing qualities and behaviors that run counter to local, rural ideals of female respectability.

Keywords:   Bengali elite, Bauls, identity, gender, carefree, patron, performance2

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