Within the last decade, many publications have appeared in South Asia (especially India) and North America on subjects relating to women. Scholars concerned with the study of South Asia have generally neglected these publications instead of integrating them into research and teaching on South Asia. This neglect results from a “false specialization” on both subject matter and scholars interested in research on women, which has led to a “purdah of scholarship” or segregation of the new scholarship on women. The reasons for this segregation include prejudice, the absence of an emphasis on family and kinship in current South Asia studies, neglect of research on Muslim populations, the complexities of gender in the Hindu tradition, and the nature of institutional support for research on women. Advocacy for women's equality is characteristic of the new research on women in South Asia, both by North American and South Asian writers. The core of the substantive argument presented in the article is as follows: Gender differences are among the fault lines along which the effects of major social, economic, political changes are distributed within populations. Gender relations are proving to be vulnerable in the face of rapid change. The increased consciousness of women's issues in South Asia is the result of accelerated changes within these societies which have affected gender differences and gender relations. Gender is increasingly understood to be a factor in accelerating class differentiation and in other processes of change.

New contributions to the research literature on women and gender in South Asia are reviewed under three headings: (1) “complementary” studies that highlight forgotten sectors of the population; (2) stocktaking assessments that summarize data about women and government activities; (3) “integrative” studies that aim to develop social theory and methodology. The final section of the review suggests new lines for future scholarship, particularly with regard to control over female labor deployment.

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