Baul Women in India and Bangladesh
Lisa I. Knight
Reviews and Awards
"The dominant tropes imagined for the Baul tradition of eastern India and Bangladesh are constructed around male models: the wandering mistrel carrying his ektara instrument who engages in esoteric ritual practices. Lisa Knight's sensitive ethnography, however, fills in the significant lacunae of the lives and practices of Baul women. She artfully analyzes the ways in which these women bridge the contradictory expectations of Baul traditions as 'wanderers' and those of the non-Baul communities as respectable, settled Bengali householders. This study will significantly impact the ways in which readers understand Baul traditions, asceticism, boundaries of religious identities, and women's agency and performance in South Asia."- Joyce Burkhalter Flueckiger, author of In Amma's Healing Room: Gender & Vernacular Islam in South India.
"Although Baul discourse emphasizes the spiritual importance of women and even celebrates women's spiritual and bodily superiority, in practice Baul women are frequently marginalized. In fact, it is often implied or explicitly stated--by Bauls, scholars, and Bengalis in general--that there are no real Baul women. This book, however, argues that Baul women exist, are important, and are worth listening to. Lisa Knight has given us an exciting, engrossing and original book based on in-depth ethnographic fieldwork and meticulous scholarship."-- Sarah Lamb, Professor of Anthropology, Brandeis University