Journal of South Asia Women Studies

New Titles

Frauenforschung International. Dokumentation/Bibliographie. Teil 2/3: Asien, Ozeanien, Australien

By Margarete Maurer and Barbara Smetschka

Wien: Verein fuer Interdisziplinaere Forschung und Praxis/ Rosa-Luxenburg-Institut, 1997

Pp. LIX+ 860. ISBN 3-901229-04-3. Price DM 128

Review by Enrica Garzilli, December 22, 1998

This International Research on Women is a reference book. It is a comprehensive bibliography and documentation on Women Studies in respect to the regions of Asia, Oceania, Australia. The publications covers among other topics women's work and women's movements in all the countries of these regions, including references to publications on women in the Arab world and on "Women and Islam".

The volume is the second of a series of publications divided by regional areas: Europe including Russia and East-European countries (Part 1), Asia and Arabia, Oceania/Pacific and Australia (Part 2/3), Africa (part 4), Latino-America and islands, Native Americans, black and colored women in North America (part 5/6), Data on women's groups, libraries, organizations, book-shops, books distributors, electronic databases and bibliographies, didactic material, etc. (part 7/8).

This volume contains monographs, articles in contributed works and journals mostly published between 1970 and 1996 in English, German, Spanish, Portuguese and other languages. It also includes a list of libraries and databases.

The introduction includes three requests to women who use this book: to make propaganda to the book itself, to donate funds to the Center for Interdisciplinary Research and Praxis that publishes the book, to send to the authors the missing information and the critics. Therefore, I feel invited to make some annotations. Papers and books on South Asia Women (and on women of other regions) are rightly divided by subject (e.g., as far as Bangladesh is concerned: Women in History, Women in Religion, Women and Families, Women and Children, Women in Family Planning, Prostitution, etc., and even a paragraph on Taslima Nasrin's writings). However, the bibliography is mainly in German. The Italian and French bibliography, and even the English one that is the richer (Gender Studies is a very popular topic in English speaker countries), are almost missing. The Russian is missing, too. This only to mention bibliographies particularly rich in Women Studies.

I informed of this big lacuna Margarete Maurer, one of the authors. She kindly answered to me that the volumes on AFRICA (1993) and AMERICA (1992) were already available and the lacuna was due "to the fact that the original concept of the book was to recollect the works available in German speaking countries. Because some students often had difficulties to find the literature on a special subject (I gave seminars on "women and the so called Third World" over about 15 years). Of course it was soon obvious that only German literature was not enough. So we also recollected the titles in other languages but of course: we still preferred such works which are available in the libraries of these countries PLUS in the special archive "VENA" in Leiden, which belongs to the few archives specialized to our list of subjects. And we could bot recollect all languages. It was only that for many (mostly casual) circumstances we had not the sufficient access to theses works. And our main colleague for whom we had managed to organize a job to do all the work left us after 4 month because a bigger organization wanted her too. So the whole project was in danger for some time and we had to manage to finish the project under conditions which were really very hard. For the time lag that was due to the problem of personell we then had to keep the work actual [updated - ed.n.] so we concentrated to the NEW/NEWER works (books and articles from journals) which we could find by help with the central Austrian institution for documentation in this field (OEFSE)." Maurer also told me of a large reorganization of the whole series. "The concept of the whole series contains two more volumes, one of them to be finished soon. a) Part 7/8 contains addresses of experts, archives organizations and journals also in Southern Europe (and in Southeast and Eastern Europe... b) Part 1 has been newly conceptualized after 19989 - so like 7/8 it contains women's movement and women's studies also in Southern Europe (and in Southeast and Eastern Europe), esp. in Italy and Spain. This volume has to be financed before we can continue working on it and actualize it (a first manuscript exists of course)."

I recommend this book. Regional, systematic, and historical aspects structure the bibliography so that the book an excellent tool not only to research, but it indirectly gives an overview about current research, at least in German speaker countries. In the light of the words of Margarete Maurer and of the introduction, I recommend who buys the book to write to the authors to suggest her/his own bibliography: we all can contribute to fill the inevitable gaps that such an almost unlimited project carries "by nature". In this way, the book will become the most comprehensive tool for research on Women Studies in the world.

The Calf Became an Orphan. A Study in Contemporary Kannada Fiction

By Robert J. Zydenbos

Institut Francais de Pondichery & Ecole Francaise d'Extreme Orient, 1996

Pp. XVII + 301. ISSN 0073-8352

Review by Enrica Garzilli, December 22, 1998

This work is a revised version of the Ph.D. thesis submitted by Zydenbos in 1989 at the University of Utrecht, in Netherlands. The author revised it while he was a research scholar at the French Institute of Pondicherry, with the collaboration of Claudine Leblanc, Ulrike Niklas and Francois Grimal.

This is probably the first doctoral dissertation about Kannada (or Canarese) literature ever submitted at a university in the Western world. The books starts with the foreword by the author and an introduction on the Kannada and Karnataka languages and on Kannada literature and the major literary movements in this century, since India attained independence in 1947. The volume includes the chapters "Indian Womanhood - the fate of the fair sex", "Other Gods - aspects of Hinduism and its confrontation with other faiths", "My People, Your People - the implications of the caste system", "The Foreign Hand - about Kannada authors and the world outside", "Tempora Mutantur - Kannada authors and cultural change". The book has an ending chapter, the bibliographies of primary literature and of secondary literature, and an index.

If I said that I am able to judge the validity of this book as a research study, I would lie. I do not know Kannada, and I do not know either Kannada literature or its impact on other Indian literatures. But I know that this book is a pioneer work and, as the author writes in his foreword, as such can run into opposition in established academic circles. The Author deals with culturally specific themes in Kannada literature from a literary point of view. After reading the first chapter on Indian Womanhood I made a list of the novels which were mentioned by the Author and I checked whether they had been translated into English, in order to buy them. This curiosity to investigate and to read further is a rare and excellent outcome, which only a few books can be proud of.