Burning Women

A Global History of Widow-Sacrifice from Ancient Times to the Present

Joerg Fisch


5.5 x 8.5 inches, 621pp, 30 halftones. November 2005

ISBN : 9781905422029 & 9781905422036

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"Following into death" is an ancient and widespread custom which entails one or more people - voluntarily or involuntarily - following a dead man or woman into death. The event is ritualized as a public act. The decisive feature is not the manner of dying but the intent, which is to accompany a dead person into the hereafter. Burning Women explores how this custom - of which the Indian Hindu custom of sati, or widow burning, is the best known example - has existed in various forms in most parts of the world.


The practice of widow-burning combines strong spiritual beliefs in the hereafter with the more secular power struggles of this world, both between the sexes and social groups. Widow burning in India has long been passionately debated, but its practice in other parts of the world has been neglected. Burning Women is the first history of the anthropological, religious, social and political contexts of widow-burning across the world.

Joerg Fisch is Professor of Modern History at University of Zurich. He has published widely on the history of international law. He is currently working on the history of human rights in the 20th century.


Women's Studies
Culture Studies