Servants of empire
in Married to the empire
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In India, a modest domestic establishment required the services of at least half-a-dozen servants to achieve a level of comfort approximating that of the middle-class home in Britain. The average wife viewed servants more as loyal retainers than as potential despoilers of British womanhood. Relationships with Indian servants, created and maintained primarily by women, were a complex mixture of intimacy and trust counterbalanced by feelings of fear and suspicion. Anglo-Indian women's occupations in the empire did not fit into any of the existing and acceptable categories of feminine activities. The peculiar construction of Anglo-Indian domesticity facilitated women's engagement with the empire and with imperial politics. Given the supposed peculiarities of imperial domesticity new arrivals to India, whatever their household management experiences in Britain, needed guidance on how to manage their homes in the empire. Indians were both the brains and the brawn of the British Raj and the Anglo-Indian home.

Married to the empire

Gender, politics and imperialism in India, 1883–1947


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