© 2003

Burning Women

Widows, Witches, and Early Modern European Travelers in India

  • Authors

Part of the Early Modern Cultural Studies book series (EMCSS)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xviii
  2. Pompa Banerjee
    Pages 1-34
  3. Pompa Banerjee
    Pages 35-71
  4. Pompa Banerjee
    Pages 73-107
  5. Pompa Banerjee
    Pages 109-135
  6. Pompa Banerjee
    Pages 175-210
  7. Back Matter
    Pages 211-278

About this book


In early modern Europe, the circulation of visual and verbal transmissions of sati, or Hindu widow burning, not only informed responses to the ritualized violence of Hindu culture, but also intersected in fascinating ways with specifically European forms of ritualized violence and European constructions of gender ideology. European accounts of women being burned in India uncannily commented on the burnings of women as witches and criminal wives in Europe. When Europeans narrated their accounts of sati, perhaps the most striking illustration of Hindu patriarchal violence, they did not specifically connect the act of widow burning to a corresponding European signifier: the gruesome ceremonial burnings of women as witches. In examining early modern representations of sati, the book focuses specifically on those strategies that enabled European travellers to protect their own identity as uniquely civilized amidst spectacular displays of 'Eastern barbarity'.


culture gender identity Interpretation novel Renaissance transmission women

About the authors

POMPA BANERJEE is Assistant Professor of English at University of Colorado, Denver and author of a number of articles on east-west connections in the early modern period.

Bibliographic information


'Overall this is an impressive book which synthesizes disparate narratives of discovery, morality, and gender differentiation to illuminate the role of women in early modern culture.' - Jyotsna Singh, Michigan State University