Given to the Goddess brings a powerful new approach to the study of Indian devadasis. Rejecting both liberal models of secularization and reform and cultural feminist attempts to recuperate female power in the goddess, Lucinda Ramberg takes seriously the religious and ethical worlds that these women inhabit and create. Her study focuses not on the typically highly trained and higher status devadasis who historically had connections to the performing arts, but on the largely Dalit women dedicated to the regional south Indian goddess Yellama, known as jogatis, who had no such training but play significant roles in local ritual functions.

Like other devadasis, jogatis have been targeted as objects of reform for more than a century. Ramberg describes how, since the 1980s, the actions of the Indian state and reform groups have taken a particularly virulent form, seeking to suppress the practice of dedication and all associated forms of...

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