Cultural Anthropologist, Stephen Huyler, will present “Re-envisioning the Identity of Women in Contemporary India” as part of the 2011 Camden Conference Community Events Series on Thursday, Jan. 6 at 6:30 p.m. at the Rockland Public Library. The event is free and open to all.

Most westerners have very specific preconceptions about the roles and identity of Indian women. The reality, particularly in the 21st century, is often very different. Our opinions are often based in antiquated and/or misguided information that portrays these women purely as victims of ancient, tradition-bound cultures. Yet India is rapidly changing and today’s women, even at the lowest level of society, portray self-initiative and determination to rise above adversity. Throughout the subcontinent, women’s roles are in flux. In many cases the situation is greatly improving, in others a reaction against the threat to traditional values has created new conflicts.

Stephen Huyler is a cultural anthropologist living in Camden who has conducted field research in India for the past 39 years. A major focus of his work has been to interview thousands of women throughout the country and to write books that reflect their identities. His two most recent books are: “Daughters of India: Art and Identity” (NY: Abbeville, 2008) and “Sonabai: Another Way of Seeing” (San Diego: Mingei International Museum, 2009). Huyler has also produced an award-winning film of the same title as his last book. In 2009, he was challenged by an intensive book tour of India meeting with feminists in major Indian cities. His talk at the Camden library will discuss some of his new insights.

This community event is hosted by the Camden Public Library in anticipation of the 24th Annual Camden Conference: “The Challenges of Asia,” Feb. 18 to 20. For more information, please visit www.camdenconference.org.