Solanki on Religious Family Laws in India

Gopika Solanki (Carelton University, Ottawa) has published Adjudication in Religious Family Laws: Cultural Accommodation, Legal Pluralism, and Gender Equality in India (Cambridge 2011). A description follows. — MLM

How do multireligious and multiethnic societies construct accommodative arrangements that can both facilitate cultural diversity and ensure women’s rights? Based on a study of legal adjudication of marriage and divorce across formal and informal arenas in contemporary Mumbai, this book argues that the shared adjudication model in which the state splits its adjudicative authority with religious groups and other societal sources in the regulation of marriage can potentially balance cultural rights and gender equality. In this model the civic and religious sources of legal authority construct, transmit, and communicate heterogeneous notions of the conjugal family, gender relations, and religious membership within the interstices of state and society. In so doing, they fracture the homogenized religious identities grounded in hierarchical gender relations within the conjugal family. The shared adjudication model facilitates diversity as it allows the construction of hybrid religious identities, creates fissures in ossified group boundaries, and provides institutional spaces for ongoing intersocietal dialogue. This pluralized legal sphere, governed by ideologically diverse legal actors, can thus increase gender equality and individual and collective legal mobilization by women effects institutional change.

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