Katharina Kakar | Books

Katharina Kakar also has presence as a writer. She views the writing of her latest book on Indian women and her solo show Crossing the Lakshmana Rekha as a cross-pollination of her creative and academic selves. Similarly her forthcoming cycle of work on the subject of Death and Dying will be reflected in installations as well as in a book.

Currently she is working on her first novel.


Women in India

Muenich, C.H.Beck Verlag, 2015

ISBN: 978 3 406 68315 2

Violence against women comes in many shapes.

In South Asia, honor killings and domestic abuse, dowry killings and rapes, abortion of female fetuses and the killing of small girls are daily occurrences. Looking for the reasons, one encounters two equally bone-crushing realities: the culturally deep-rooted patriarchal structures and the economic struggle for survival of the lower castes.

Katharina Kakar draws a many-faceted portrait of the world of Indian women, including its bright spots. The heroines of this book are women who fearlessly and resourcefully stand up against the injustices imposed on them.

Frauen zwischen Unterdrückung und Widerstand


Die Gewalt gegen Frauen in Indien kennt viele Gestalten. Ehrenmorde und häusliche Gewalt, Mitgiftmorde und Vergewaltigungen, die Abtreibung weiblicher Föten und die Tötung kleiner Mädchen sind auf dem Subkontinent an der Tagesordnung. Sucht man nach den Gründen, begegnet man zwei gleichermaßen erdrückenden Realitäten: den kulturell tief verwurzelten patriarchalen Strukturen und dem ökonomischen Überlebenskampf der unteren Schichten.

„Frauen in Indien“ (Katharina Kakar, Beck Verlag, 2015) erzählt Lebensrealitäten von Frauen zwischen Ohnmacht, Armut, Entwertung und Auflehnung und von dem unvorstellbaren Mut, den sie häufig aufbringen, um sich zu wehren. Aber auch von jungen Frauen der Moderne, die in Partnerschaft und Liebe neue Lebensformen für sich definieren.


Moving to Goa

New Delhi, Penguin Viking, 2013

ISBN: 9780670085774

Many people dream of escaping the stresses and strains of urban life and moving to Goa. Katharina Kakar and her husband, psychoanalyst and writer Sudhir Kakar, followed their dream and boldly took that plunge – buying a charming old house in a tranquil south Goan village, where they hoped to find a whole new way of living and working.

Ten years later, they are still here, living the idyll – and the reality – of life in Goa. This book captures the allures of all the different Goas. It looks into festivals and rituals that puncture the rhythm of village life. It portrays fascinating local characters, ranging from aging hippies, beachboys and elusive workmen to the aristocratic residents of Goa’s grand old mansions. But it also reveals lesser known aspects of Goa: the hidden – often shocking – histories of Goa’s colonial past; and the debates and fissures that engage and divide Goan society today.

In part personal memoir and travelogue, in part an insightful look at Goan history and society, this book portrays Goa with all its paradoxes and problems, its seductive pleasures and, above all, its unique and enduring charm.


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The Indians:

Portrait of a People

Delhi: Penguin-Viking, 2007, 
ISBN: 978-0143066637

In this bold, illuminating and superbly readable study, India’s foremost psychoanalyst and cultural commentator Sudhir Kakar and anthropologist Katharina Kakar investigate the nature of “Indian-ness”. What makes an Indian recognizably so to the rest of the world, and, more importantly, to his or her fellow Indians? For, as the authors point out, despite ethnic differences that are characteristic more of past empires than modern nation states, there is an underlying unity in the great diversity of India that needs to be recognized.

Looking at what constitutes a common Indian identity, the authors examine in detail the predominance of family, community and caste in our everyday lives, our attitudes to sex and marriage, our prejudices, our ideas of the other (explored in a brilliant chapter on Hindu-Muslim conflict), and our understanding of health, right and wrong, and death. In the final chapter, they provide fascinating insights into the Indian mind, shaped largely by the culture’s dominant, Hindu world view. 





Frauen in Indien. Leben zwischen Unterdrückung und Widerstand (Women in India. A life between repression and resistance), Beck Verlag, 2015.

Crossing the Lakshmana Rekha. Shakti, Sensuality, Sexuality, New Delhi, Archana Press, 2015.

Moving to Goa, Penguin Viking, 2013.

Together with Sudhir Kakar, Die Inder: Porträt einer Gesellschaft, Beck-Verlag, München 2006 (The Indians, Penguin Books, New Delhi, 2007; Les Indiens, Editions Seuil, Paris, 2007; Gli Indiani, Neri Pozza Editore, Vicenza, 2007) The Indians (Hindi), Penguin Books, 2009; The Indians (Malayalam), DC Books, Kottayam, 2010; La India, Editorial Kairos, Barcelona, 2012)

Hindu-Frauen zwischen Tradition und Moderne: Religiöse Veränderungen der indischen Mittelschicht im städtischen Umfeld, Ergebnisse der Frauenforschung, Band 57, Metzler Verlag, Stuttgart, 2002.

Hg. (mit H. Zinser und L. Guzy), Tradition im Wandel: Weibliche Religiosität im Hinduismus, Buddhismus und Jainismus, Empirische und Gesellschaftliche Studien, Band 2, Medienverlag Koehler, Tübingen, 2000.

Der Gottmensch aus Puttaparthi. Eine Analyse der Sathya-Sai-Baba-Bewegung und ihrer Westlichen Anhänger, Kovac-Verlag, Hamburg, 1999.

Chapters / Articles


Handlungsfähigkeit und systemische Gewalt: Weibliche Erotik und Macht am Beispiel der Mystikerin Andal, in: Paragrana. Internationale Zeitschrift für Historische Anthropologie, Berlin, 2022 (in press). 

Afterlife and Fertility in Varanasi, in: Imaginations of Death and beyond in India and Europe, eds. Guenther Blamberger, Sudhir Kakar, Singapore, Springer, 2018 (in press).

The Art of Seeing, in: Seeing Art, Journal MMXV(2), Art Ichol, 2016, p. 36-50.

Celebration of Death, A Jaina Tradition of liberating the soul by fasting oneself to death, in: Death and Dying. Boundaries of Consciousness, Wasan Conversations, ed. Sudhir Kakar, Penguin Viking, 2014.

Together with Sudhir Kakar,  Der Hinduismus, in: Kraftwerk Religion. Eine Ausstellung über Gott und die Menschen", Deutsches Hygiene-museum Dresden, 2010.

Familie in Indien – eine Innenansicht, in: FEZ-Berlin (Hg.), Achtung Familie. Katalog zur Ausstellung, Fez/Frankesche Stiftungen Halle, 2007: S. 54-56.

From Berlin to Benaulim, in: Mério Cabral e Sá (Hg.), Location Goa, Rajhuns Press, Kolhapur, 2006: S. 170-176.

Adaption – Reinterpretation – Interdependenz: Postmoderne Religiosität am Beispiel der Sathya-Sai-Baba-Bewegung, in: Michael Bergunder (Hg.) Westliche Formen des Hinduismus in Deutschland, Neue Hallesche Berichte 6, Verlag der Franckeschen Stiftungen, Halle, 2006: S. 68-90.

A Personal View, in Seminar No. 543, New Delhi, Nov. 2004: S. 77-79.

Buddhas Töchter auf neuen Wegen -  Reflektionen zur Nonnenbewegung Sri Lankas, in: Inken Prohl / Hildegard Piegeler / Stefan Rademacher (Hgs.), Gelebte Religionen, Königshausen und Neumann, Würzburg, 2004: S. 191-207.

Virtuous Mother, Virile Hero and Warrior Queen: The Conception of Gender and Family in Hindutva, in: Margrit  Pernau / Imtiaz Ahmad / Helmut Reifeld (Hgs.), Family and Gender. Changing Values in India and Germany, Sage Publications, New Delhi,  2002: S.179-195.

Weibliche Askese im Buddhismus? Der Einfluss westlicher Nonnen auf die Neu-Rezeption der ‘Gender-Frage’ im buddhistischen Sangha, in: Lidia Guzy / Hildegard Piegeler (Hgs.), Askese – Entsagung und Disziplinierung. Lokale Traditionen im Vergleich, Medienverlag Koehler, Tübingen, 2002: S. 39-48.

Middle-class Formation and the Cultural Construction of Gender in Urban India, in: Imtiaz Ahmed / Helmut Reifeld (Hg.), Middle Class Values in India and Western Europe, Social Science Press, New Delhi, 2002: S. 125-140.

Reinventing Women: Family politics of the Hindutva-movement in India, in: H. Seiwert, G. Besier (Hgs.), Religion-Staat-Gesellschaft, Religion und Politik in Asien, Sonderausgabe, Duncker & Humblott, Vol. 2, Heft 2, Berlin: 2001: S. 205-221.

Electra, Mothergoddes, in: Outlook, Stree: Modern Indian Women, Annual Issue, Delhi, 2001: S. 84 / 85.