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Beautiful Mistakes: An Ethnographic Study of Women’s Lives after Marriage in a Rural Sinhala Village

UDALAGAMA, THARINDI,DAYARA (2018) Beautiful Mistakes: An Ethnographic Study of Women’s Lives after Marriage in a Rural Sinhala Village. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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This thesis explores the lives of women after marriage. It focuses on their position in households and their roles as wives and mothers. The findings are supported by a 14-month ethnography in a rural village in the dry zone of Sri Lanka. The village itself has been subject to periodical changes that have impacted village life. Contrary to popular discourses, this has not resulted in a disintegration of village life. From my exploration of women’s lives this thesis shows the mechanisms that enable integration to be achieved amidst developmental changes. Moreover, women play a central role in keeping family life together. Within the parameters of women’s responsibilities as caregivers, they are able to build and maintain the household and preserve a public image of a ‘good house’. However, at times houses are engulfed with problems that rupture marriages and family lives. In such instances, I show how women work to restore their marriages and family lives by strategically enlisting the help of their children, affines, kin, close friends and the state. When these prove inadequate, I show how women turn to supernatural solutions such as sorcery. Women also use virtual resources in the form of televisions and mobile phones to find relief from the suffering that occurs in the home. In efforts to restore family life, women are working within structures of subjugation rather than challenging them. Women’s capacity to mend ruptures in marriage and family life causes them to see their lives as a series of ‘beautiful mistakes’. Family life is necessary, valued and important for the women in this thesis but it is also a source of pain and suffering.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Women, Marriage, Suffering, Kinship, Sri Lanka
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Anthropology, Department of
Thesis Date:2018
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:12 Sep 2018 10:29

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