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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.

Abstract only
Indrani Sen

encounters brought out instead the complexities among ‘native’ women from various regions (namely, Bengali, Maharashtrian or Punjabi women). Missionary accounts of middle-class/high-caste Bengali zenana women, or Steel’s representations of the Jat peasantry or impoverished school girls from small-town Punjab, served to underline these cultural complexities among ‘native’ women who

in Gendered transactions
Zenana encounters in nineteenth-century Bengal
Indrani Sen

Forbes, ‘expressed a direct concern that their womenfolk learn the manners and occupations of English ladies’. 21 Indeed, male initiative formed the bedrock of this education system, since it was the male heads of households, eager to have their womenfolk taught, who invited zenana visitation. 22 However, the question of Bengali zenana women

in Gendered transactions
Mary A. Procida

, Anglo-Indian women were the only members of their community who could cross over between the zenana (women’s quarters) and the public world of the Raj. 5 Furthermore, Anglo-Indian women lived in India, where they came into daily contact with Indian women, could assess the problems of Indian womanhood firsthand and could commit to their long-term solutions. As David Savage has

in Married to the empire
Abstract only
Indrani Sen

regional diversities. I also sought to present how these enormous diversities inflected their inter-racial encounters and perceptions of nautch girls (dancing girls), ayahs (female domestic servants), wet-nurses, middle-class zenana women (women living in seclusion), princely women and western-educated women graduates (college educated). Themes and concerns of this book: white

in Gendered transactions
The inflection of desire in Yvonne Vera and Tsitsi Dangarembga
Elleke Boehmer

heterosexual lovers. The sister is ‘her own breath flowing into her body’: ‘before [Thenjiwe’s lover] occupied all the places in her mind Nonceba, her sister, had already been holding her hand quietly and forever’.28 In the light of these quotations, the question as to why the valencies of female friendship, both nonsexual and, possibly, sexual, have not been more thoroughly explored in African social spaces becomes perhaps even more pressing. As is widely known, polygamy is widespread in African societies and therefore, as in the zenana, women have long lived together as

in Stories of women
Colonial encounters in Indian women’s English writings in late nineteenth-century western India
Indrani Sen

bond they shared with Indian zenana women who would call out from their rooftops, begging them to come and visit them. Krupabai dismantles this trope of loving sisterhood by ‘returning the gaze’, and revealing the overt and covert racism among European missionaries who practice a form of ‘colonial Christianity’. She thus subjects to critical scrutiny the rabid racism and class

in Gendered transactions
Indrani Sen

towards missionaries and their ‘civilising mission’ in other respects as well. We saw in the previous chapter, in the context of mid-century Bengal, how female evangelicals had placed themselves at the forefront of educating and ‘civilising’ zenana women. They prided themselves on their intimate knowledge of purdah life, and one striking feature of their writing was their

in Gendered transactions
Mary A. Procida

residents, especially the mysterious zenana women who lived in secluded quarters. Anglo-Indians represented Indian dwellings as inherently insalubrious and their inhabitants as sickly. Indian women, in particular, entombed in and defined by this noxious domestic environment, were perceived as the weak and pallid counterparts of robust Anglo-Indian women who throve on an active and

in Married to the empire