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Domestic Violence in a South Asian City

Amrapali Maitra
Stanford University
Date and Time: 
Wednesday, May 9, 2018 - 17:30

Department of Anthropology
Main Quad - Building 50
Room 51A (Colloquium Room)


Based on 16 months of doctoral fieldwork in Kolkata, India, this paper offers a new account of domestic violence. I argue that existing models for domestic violence in South Asia—the American model of ‘Power and Control’ and the cultural model of ‘Suffering Sita’ (the good wife who suffers in silence)—are both inadequate in explaining women’s realities. Through attention to women’s bodily experiences at work and at home, I found that not all violence is marked as abuse and not all abuse is violent. Women do not stay silent: they do complain, and they find ways to manage abuse beyond the paradigm of leaving or staying. At the end, I explore what this research taught me as not only a scholar but also a clinician.


Amrapali Maitra is an MD and PhD graduate from Stanford University, Department of Anthropology.  She is interested in ethnographic modes of attention from touch to literature.  She is a first-year resident in Internal Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School.