About the Book :
Behind Mud Walls is a humane, dispassionate study of North Indian village life. More than a generation ago, William and Charlotte Wiser came to India as American missionaries and during their stay made a significant contribution to anthropology by writing one of the first Indian village studies. This revised edition contains not only their classic 1930 study and Mrs. Wiser's appraisals of continuity and change in the village life of Karimpur during the 1960s and 1970s, but also a new chapter by Susan Wadley that sketches the social and economic changes she found in Karimpur in 1984. While the 1980s have ushered in new economic opportunities that have allowed the poor to begin to rid themselves of the domination of Brahman landlords, the situation for women has worsened as modernization has deprived them of job opportunities and fertility has increased. Professor Wadley also provides a brief preface, comparative statistics, and a bibliography listing the unpublished writings on Karimpur by the Wisers, Dr. Bruce Derr, and herself. In his Foreword of 1963, Professor Mandelbaum noted that in 1930 the villagers of Karimpur believed that "a dilapidated mud wall offered better protection (than if it were well maintained) because it suggested that those who lived behind it were not worth exploiting. In 1962 the young men stated that what they wanted most of all were walls of baked brick for their houses. No longer did they feel a need to build barriers which had constantly to be repaired-but not too well-after every rain." They no longer feared that solid walls would attract the notice of predators. They wanted them, "not for better hiding, but for better living." In 1984, Professor Wadley found brick dwellings were everywhere, and if a whole house wasn't made of brick, at least one room often was. This edition highlights the changes registered in Karimpur since Charlotte Wiser last described it in 1970 and sheds light on the broader processes of social change occurring in South Asia.