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Life on the porch: marginality, women, and old age in rural Bhutan

Tashi, Kelzang T. (2022) Life on the porch: marginality, women, and old age in rural Bhutan. Journal of Anthropological Research, 78 (1). 35 - 58. ISSN 0091-7710

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Identification Number: 10.1086/717846


This article examines the shifting status of women in rural Bhutan, some of whom, while living in a social arrangement characterized by matrilineal inheritance and matrilocal residence, can become seemingly marginalized in old age. It analyzes the occupancy trajectories of women against the backdrop of aging, the loss of power, and the traditional land tenure system, considering their linkages to the transformation of one’s home from a secure and inclusive to an insecure and disorienting place. Landlessness or “houselessness” is provoked not just by capitalist relations; the potential for marginality in old age is also embedded in the gendered structures of inheritance. The elders living on porches nevertheless view their dwellings as socially secure even as they experience sociospatial marginality and alienation not only from the larger community but also from their own families. This divergent view of their situation is intertwined with the Buddhist notion of karma.

Item Type: Article
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Additional Information: © 2022 The University of New Mexico
Divisions: Anthropology
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
Date Deposited: 28 Feb 2022 10:54
Last Modified: 07 Jun 2024 05:54

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