Age of consent and hegemonic social reform
in Gender and imperialism
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This chapter explores the Age of Consent Act's ideologically hegemonic dimensions with respect to the production of identities for Bengali hindu middle-class women. It focuses on the selected group of protagonists and examines their representational discursivities with respect to hegemonic colonial social reform. The chapter concentrates on the dominant or the governing group which sets in place a political-cultural agenda which provides the terms for hegemonic contestation. It also concentrates on the discursive-ideological forms arising from the state's proposals and considers them as moments of evolution in the 'ruling discourse' of colonial India. Significant legislation pertaining to social reform which sought to penetrate deeply into the everyday life and culture of Indians marked the passage of British rule in India. The colonial discourse of racial identity and inferiority which characterised the 'hindu' as a construct was intrinsically patriarchal, with regard to both the men and women of Bengal.

Editor: Clare Midgley


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