Burning Women pp 109-135 | Cite as

Instructions for Christian Women

The Sati and European Widows
  • Pompa Banerjee
Part of the Early Modern Cultural Studies book series (EMCSS)


The various rhetorical and visual strategies for representing the sati enabled many travelers to dissociate themselves from the cruelty of the spectacles of widowburning. Yet, there also emerged, as we saw, representations of the rescue motif, where Hindu widows became objects to be rescued and saved from the cruel excesses of their own culture. As the following pages will illustrate, there also were uncanny convergences in the different discourses that constructed the sati in India and those that fashioned “good wives” and widows in Europe. Earlier, I mentioned the dangers of imposing a pan-European single cultural norm for all European women. There were obvious cultural differences between Dutch, French, English, German, Scottish, Portuguese, and Italian women; there were religious distinctions, as there were differences in class, marital status, wealth, education, and autonomy. Divisions between rural and urban, changing mores from one decade to another, as well as specifically regional variations make the term “European women” problematic. But, I suggest that, despite the vast differences among European women, the dividing lines between one group of women and another were frequently porous. Many intersections occurred within the diverse cultural assumptions that constructed women in different European regions.


Muslim Woman Gender Ideology European Woman East India Company Christian Woman 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Pompa Banerjee 2003

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  • Pompa Banerjee

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