Gender in Indian History and Society, c. 1800 to the present

(class leader: Professor Polly O'Hanlon)
Hilary Term
Timings and venue – contact convenor

Gender relations and identities were of great symbolic, as well as practical importance, in colonial India. British missionaries, reforming colonial officials, Indian social critics and Indian nationalists all found in the status of Indian women a ground on which wider questions about Indian identity, civilizational values and fitness for political freedom could be discussed. Theories about India's 'martial races' brought Indian understandings of masculinity and the body into the political arena in new ways. Gender likewise came to be important in the construction of religious community identities, with new regimes of bodily strengthening coming to the fore in early Hindu revivalist organisations. Changes in colonial law helped to reshape the Hindu joint family, with important consequences for marriage law and property rights. For India's Muslims, a separate realm of Muslim 'personal law' came to stand as an important marker of a distinctive Indian Muslim identity. Using records of the colonial state, legal records, contemporary periodical literature and autobiographies, students will explore the history of these shifts in colonial gender relations, and their longer term consequences for the gendered construction of citizenship in independent India.

8 weekly tutorials or classes of 90 minutes will be offered, during the Hilary Term. In addition, each student will be required to write two tutorials essays during the term, and will receive individual feedback on their work.