The Strong Women of Modhupur reviews the history of the Garo people of both India and Bangladesh since they were first encountered by the British more than two centuries ago. It describes the older Garo culture that is now remembered as "traditional", and it tells of the events that have affected the Garos of Bangladesh since the end of colonial rule. The book then turns to the life of the Garos of Modhupur, among whom the author has lived on several occasions since 1984. The technology and agriculture that is practiced today is described along with the way in which the work is organized. Particular attention is paid to the unusual matrilineal kinship organization of the Garos and to the special role that women play in this society. Outside influences that have brought Christianity, better education, new technology, and new kinds of jobs to the Garos are discussed. The book concludes with a chapter that evaluates policies that might affect the Garos, and considers the role that Garos may play in Bangladesh in the future. Professor Burling is a professional anthropologist who has written extensively for a specialized anthropological readership, but he has written this book for a wider audience, and reading it requires no specialized background. The book contains both general information about the Garos and accounts of the author's personal experience with the people. It should appeal to the Garos themselves, to readers who have known or worked with the Garos, and to all Bangladeshis who want to know more about their fellow countrymen.
Robbins Burling is Professor Emeritus of Anthropology and Linguistics at the University of Michigan, USA. He first worked among the Garos in India in the 1950's, when he gathered materials for his dissertation, and since 1984 he has been a regular visitor to Bangladesh. Here, he has studied both the language and the culture of the Garo people of Modhupur. Professor Burling is the author of several books on both anthropological and linguistic topics.