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Book Talk: Given to the Goddess: South Indian Devadasis and the Sexuality of Religion

Wednesday, March 9, 2016 at 4:30pm to 5:30pm

Olin Library, Room 107
Olin Library, Ithaca, NY 14850, USA

Who and what are marriage and sex for? Whose practices and which ways of talking to god can count as religion?

Lucinda Ramberg considers these questions based upon two years of ethnographic research on an ongoing South Indian practice of dedication in which girls, and sometimes boys, are married to a goddess.  Join us for a Chats in the Stacks talk about her book Given to the Goddess: South Indian Devadasis and the Sexuality of Religion (Duke University Press Books, September 2014).

Called devadasis, or jogatis, those dedicated become female and male women who conduct the rites of the goddess outside the walls of her main temple and transact in sex outside the bounds of conjugal matrimony. The practice is widely understood to be based in superstition, driven by poverty and result in prostitution. Kinship with the goddess is productive for the families who dedicate their children, Ramberg argues, and yet it cannot conform to modern conceptions of gender, family, or religion. This nonconformity, she suggests, speaks to the limitations of modern categories, as well as to the possibilities of relations—between and among humans and deities—that exceed such categories.

Lucinda Ramberg is assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology and the Program in Feminist, Gender & Sexuality Studies at Cornell.

Refreshments served and books available for purchase. This event is hosted by Olin Library.

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Event Type

Author Appearance, Presentation


Cornell University Library, Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Cornell University College of Arts and Sciences, Anthropology, Olin Library, South Asia Program, Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies


cascal, sociology, Religion, history, Cornell University Library, CUL, India, Anthropology, book talk, olin library, sexuality studies, artscal, fgss, Global Cornell, Einaudi Center, SAP, tci, anthro


Contact E-Mail

Contact Name

Lynn Bertoia

Contact Phone

(607) 255 4813


Lucinda Ramberg

Speaker Affiliation

Department of Anthropology/Program in Feminist, Gender & Sexuality Studies at Cornell.

Open To

Free and open to all

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