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Indrani Sen

unusual memsahib who was concerned with the disadvantaged position of women in the province was the intrepid Flora Annie Steel ( 1847–1929 ), the Punjab-based administrator’s wife who closely involved herself in the ‘civilising mission’ and was actively involved in female schooling. Steel, who dominated the ideological landscape of the British Raj in diverse ways, was also a

in Gendered transactions
The white woman in colonial India, c. 1820–1930
Author: Indrani Sen

This book explores colonial gendered interactions, with a special focus on the white woman in colonial India. It examines missionary and memsahibs' colonial writings, probing their construction of Indian women of different classes and regions, such as zenana women, peasants, ayahs and wet-nurses. The three groups of white women focused upon are memsahibs, missionaries and, to a certain extent, ordinary soldiers' wives. Among white women in colonial India, it was the female missionaries who undoubtedly participated most closely in the colonial 'civilising mission'. The book addresses through a scrutiny of the literary works written by 'New Indian Women', such as Flora Annie Steel. Cross-racial gendered interactions were inflected by regional diversities, and the complexity of the category of the 'native woman'. The colonial household was a site of tension, and 'the anxieties of colonial rule manifest themselves most clearly in the home'. The dynamics of the memsahib-ayah relationship were rooted in race/class hierarchies, domestic power structures and predicated on the superiority of the colonising memsahib. The book also examines colonial medical texts, scrutinising how they wielded authoritative power over vulnerable young European women through the power/knowledge of their medical directives. Colonial discourse sought to project the white woman's vulnerability to specific mental health problems, as well as the problem of addiction of 'barrack wives'. Giving voice to the Indian woman, the book scrutinises the fiction of the first generation of western-educated Indian women who wrote in English, exploring their construction of white women and their negotiations with colonial modernities.

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Writing popular culture in colonial Punjab, 1885– 1905
Churnjeet Mahn

, rather than language, acted as the axiom of difference when it came to constructing the basis of new national imaginaries. This chapter identifies some of the ways a Punjabi literary sphere was (mis)understood in the late-Victorian empire through the curation of a canon of Punjabi folk-culture by R. C. Temple (1850–1931), Flora Annie Steel (1847–1929) and C. F. Usborne (1874–1919), all of whom lived and worked in Punjab as an extension of colonial administration. Examples of a diverse and rich Punjabi literary culture

in Interventions
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Indrani Sen

housekeeping manuals, to lesser known texts from the colonial and missionary archives, including the category of the missionary novel and the medical manual. 2 Moreover, it revisited certain well-known colonial figures such as Flora Annie Steel and brought a fresh perspective on her by exploring her largely forgotten short stories which addressed issues pertaining to patriarchal practices

in Gendered transactions
European women’s mental health and addiction in the late nineteenth century
Indrani Sen

‘homesickness’ as a chronic ‘disease of the mind’ which specifically affected women. 33 The problem of female depression was echoed over the decades; the author of a cookery manual in the 1880s warned that ‘if [the mind] be allowed to lie fallow and never exercised, or if the thoughts are unemployed, they act as a depressant’. 34 Around the same time, Flora Annie Steel observed in her

in Gendered transactions
Memsahibs, ayahs and wet-nurses
Indrani Sen

Clearly, the objective of the Englishwoman was to ‘replicate the empire on a domestic scale – a benevolent, much supervised terrain where discipline and punishment is meted out with an unwavering hand’. 10 In this regard, it was of course Flora Annie Steel and Grace Gardiner’s influential housekeeping manual The Complete Indian Housekeeper and Cook (1888), a text much

in Gendered transactions
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Indrani Sen

. Nevertheless, it still continues to be a topic that needs to be unpacked in many of its dimensions, such as the representation of white women in medical texts, or the recovery of the virtually forgotten ‘native’ writings of the memsahib-novelist, Flora Annie Steel, who was praised in her time as a female Rudyard Kipling, in her close knowledge of ‘native’ life. Research on the white woman (specifically the

in Gendered transactions
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We are in the empire
Mary A. Procida

politics, and these texts also provide insight into women’s political perspectives. Starting in the late nineteenth century, novels by Anglo-Indian women, who were also often wives of officials, such as Flora Annie Steel (1847-1927; married to an Indian Civil Service (ICS) officer), Sara Jeannette Duncan (1862-1922; married to a curator of the Indian Museum in Calcutta), Maud Diver (1867-1945; born in

in Married to the empire
Mary A. Procida

on interactions between women in purdah (i.e. sex-based seclusion) and men to whom they were not related. In 1912, for instance, forty-eight women worked as inspectors of girls’ schools. 67 Flora Annie Steel, one of the earliest of these female inspectors, recalled that she worked long hours for (what she considered) the paltry recompense of Rs 16 per day. Steel’s case

in Married to the empire
Mary A. Procida

’. 50 The themes outlined in these ostensibly factual accounts are echoed in Anglo-Indian fiction, which enjoyed a wide readership in both empire and metropole. Flora Annie Steel’s novel On the Face of the Waters , an instant bestseller in 1896, tells of Kate Erlton, an Englishwoman hiding in Delhi during the Mutiny disguised as an Indian woman. 51 Jim Douglas, a disgraced

in Married to the empire