Flora Annie Steel, social reform and female education in late nineteenth-century Punjab
in Gendered transactions
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This chapter focuses on Flora Annie Steel's fictional representations of gendered problems in both rural as well as small-town Punjab. It discusses her representations of the devaluation of women among the agricultural community and examines her representations of girls' schooling in small-town Punjab, including the role played by European female evangelicals. Through these, the chapter explores the ambivalences in Steel's perspective on social reform. As an education officer, Steel felt that the provincial Punjab government needed to systematise female education, control expenditure and increase enrolment. Female education formed an important plank of colonial gender reform in Punjab in the nineteenth century. By focusing upon her critique of missionaries and their methods, the chapter draw outs the complexities within the 'civilising mission'. The chapter reveals how far from being a unified enterprise, it was undercut by internal tensions, divisions and contradictions within the white community in India.

Gendered transactions

The white woman in colonial India, c. 1820–1930


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