‘Masculine’ is most commonly defined in direct contrast to ‘feminine’. Masculinity is thus often seen as an antithesis of femininity, the two ideas apparently locked in a tussle over the allocation of characteristics. Joseph Alter bypasses this opposition altogether in his original exploration of the concept of masculinity in modern India. He offers a strikingly new interpretation of Indian ‘maleness’, one that refers to itself, and not to an ‘other’. Through the distinct yet interrelated lenses of nationalism, yoga, wrestling, the concept of brahmacharya and male chastity, Alter examines the moral, material and biological roots of Indian masculinity. Unusually, it is the ideal of the celibate male that is the basis for this exploration. Moral Materialism: Sex and Masculinity in Modern India offers an elegant and inventive perspective on the multiple meanings of Indian masculinity.
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