Confronting Saffron Demography: Religion, Fertility and Women’s Status in India


Patricia Jeffery and Roger Jeffery

Paperback    9788188789405


Communalist discourses often portray Muslims as ‘backward’ because of purdah, polygamy, illiteracy, high fertility and low women’s status. The authors highlight the falsity and perniciousness of such negative stereotypes.



Drawing on over 20 years of field-level research in rural Uttar Pradesh, these essays challenge Hindutva myths about Muslims in India.


Pointing to the danger of rigidifying the contrasts between Hindus and Muslims, the authors draw out parallels and similarities between them, for example in domestic and gender politics, to argue that Muslim women are not especially oppressed. Moreover, those differences that remain are compounded and exaggerated by Muslims’ minority position in India and their marginalisation, for example in relation to health services and to education.


These revised and up-dated essays address these general issues through the examples of fertility, women’s status, and the obstacles to movements that might redress these problems.



  1. Saffron Demography and the Common Wisdom
  2. ‘We Five, Our Twenty-Five’: Myths of Population Out of Control in Contemporary India
  3. A Uniform Customary Code? Marital Breakdown and Women’s Economic Entitlements
  4. Engendering Communalism: Everyday and Institutional Aspects of Gender and Community.


Patricia Jeffery and Roger Jeffery are both Professors in Sociology at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland.  Separately and together they have written a number of books on India.

Additional Information

Patricia Jeffery & Roger Jeffery

Published by

Three Essays Collective





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