Title Sugar and Tension
Subtitle Diabetes and Gender in Modern India
Author Lesley Jo Weaver
ISBN 9781978803008
List price USD 34.95
Price outside India Available on Request
Original price
Binding Paperback
No of pages 212
Book size 152 x 228 mm
Publishing year 2019
Original publisher Rutgers University Press (Eurospan Group)
Published in India by .
Exclusive distributors Viva Books Private Limited
Sales territory India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, .
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“This book is a must read not only for scholars and public health practitioners wanting to understand how women in contemporary India experience and respond to diabetes; but a broader audience interested in what ethnographies of chronic illness can tell us about gender roles, women’s life priorities, and challenges to their wellbeing across the life course.”

Mark Nichter, author of Global Health: Why Cultural Perceptions, Social Representation and Biopolitics Matter


Sugar and Tension is a poignant ethnography that reveals how middle-class women in urban North India grapple with a mounting diabetes epidemic in the midst of shifting expectations and opportunities for women. Women with diabetes in Delhi often act in ways that run counter to biomedical recommendations. Weaver helps us to understand why, through her account of structural constraints that women face, and by showing how women justify their actions as they leverage ideas about relationships among diabetes, tension and self-sacrifice to engage in both social critique and self-validation. This book makes an important contribution to the studies of medical anthropology and gender in South Asia.”

Cecilia VanHollen, author of Birth in the Age of AIDS: Women, Reproduction, and HIV/AIDS in India


Women in North India are socialized to care for others, so what do they do when they get a disease like diabetes that requires intensive self-care? In Sugar and Tension, Lesley Jo Weaver uses women’s experiences with diabetes in New Delhi as a lens to explore how gendered roles and expectations are taking shape in contemporary India. Weaver argues that although women’s domestic care of others may be at odds with the self-care mandates of biomedically-managed diabetes, these roles nevertheless do important cultural work that may buffer women’s mental and physical health by fostering social belonging. Weaver describes how women negotiate the many responsibilities in their lives when chronic disease is at stake. As women weigh their options, the choices they make raise questions about whose priorities should count in domestic, health, and family worlds. The varied experiences of women illustrate that there are many routes to living well or poorly with diabetes, and these are not always the ones canonized in biomedical models of diabetes management.


Foreword by Lenore Manderson

Chapter 1: Opening a Window on Diabetes Experience

Chapter 2: Seeking Modern India

Chapter 3: Balance: The Moral and Practical Work of Diabetes Management

Chapter 4: Tension: Diabetes, Distress, and Mental Health

Chapter 5: Sacrifice: Domesticity and Care Among Women with Diabetes

Chapter 6: Resilience: Living Well with Diabetes

Chapter 7: Conclusions: Diabetes as Life

Appendix: Methodological Notes





About the Author:

Lesley Jo Weaver is an assistant professor of medical anthropology in the department of international studies at the University of Oregon in Eugene.

Target Audience:

People interested in Medical Anthropology and Women Studies.

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