In the club

Associational Life in Colonial South Asia

In the Club presents a comprehensive examination of social clubs across South Asia. Often a target of intellectual scorn or literary ridicule, In the Club reorients attention towards the complex – and until now, often hidden inner workings of club life, while at the same time arguing for clubs as key contributors to South Asia’s colonial associational life and civil society. Using government records, personal memoirs, private club records, and club histories themselves, In the Club thematically explores colonial club life. All clubs had legal underpinnings that enmeshed them in larger colonial legal networks. Clubs maintained physical locations that demanded a wide variety of accommodations in their local Indian environs. No club could avoid veering near or off financial cliffs as their profits and losses swung wildly, sometimes out of control. Indians and Britons worked shoulder to shoulder in clubs, often utilizing a vast employment network to better themselves and move up the club hierarchy. Clubs are (in) famous for their racial overtones and policies, but In the Club challenges this assertion for what has been more hype than reality. By the early twentieth century, Indian and British women benefited from their own clubs, while "The Club", far from being a colonial relic, has continued to thrive in postcolonial South Asia. Woven together, these chapters shed light on a variety of networks (social, ideological, and logistical) that penetrated every club, while at the same time locating clubs in a growing associational world that reached from India to Britain and beyond.

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‘Hopefully, scholars currently working on clubs around the British Empire will have the advantage of Cohen's work, which demonstrates the ways that clubs can reveal facts about the private life of the British Empire and details about civil society in South Asia.'
AMY MILNE-SMITH, Wilfrid Laurier University
American Historical Review
November 2016

‘The volume will be a useful reference work for those wanting to know the specific mechanics of how exactly clubs were founded and flourished, for those exploring associational life more broadly, and for those examining social life within India writ large.'
Amy Milne-Smith, Wilfrid Laurier University

‘In the Club is a welcome addition to the study of colonialism and colonial bourgeois sociality in South Asia.'
Ritajyoti Bandyopadhyay is Assistant Professor in History, Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta, Kolkata
The Book Review
February 2016

‘This book would be of interest to historians as well as to general readers.'
ShaktiKak teaches at the Centre for Jawaharlal Nehru Studies, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi
Economic & Political Weekly Vol. 1, No. 51
December 2015

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