Pub. Date:
Cambridge University Press
Coming of Age in Nineteenth-Century India: The Girl-Child and the Art of Playfulness

Coming of Age in Nineteenth-Century India: The Girl-Child and the Art of Playfulness

by Ruby LalRuby Lal


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In this engaging and eloquent history, Ruby Lal traces the becoming of nineteenth-century Indian women through a critique of narratives of linear transition from girlhood to womanhood. In the north Indian patriarchal environment, women's lives were dominated by the expectations of the male universal, articulated most clearly in household chores and domestic duties. The author argues that girls and women in the early nineteenth century experienced freedoms, eroticism, adventurousness and playfulness, even within restrictive circumstances. Although women in the colonial world of the later nineteenth century continued to be agential figures, their activities came to be constrained by more firmly entrenched domestic norms. Lal skillfully marks the subtle and complex alterations in the multifaceted female subject in a variety of nineteenth-century discourses, which are elaborated in four different sites – forest, school, household, and rooftop.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781107521346
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Publication date: 03/05/2015
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 248
Product dimensions: 5.98(w) x 9.02(h) x 0.51(d)

About the Author

Ruby Lal is Associate Professor in the Department of Middle Eastern and South Asian Studies at Emory University. She has written extensively on women and gender relations in Islamic societies in the precolonial and colonial world. In addition to numerous academic articles and political commentaries, she is the author of Domesticity and Power in the Early Mughal World (Cambridge, 2005). She is currently finalizing a historical biography of the Mughal Empress Nur Jahan (forthcoming).

Table of Contents

1. Texts, spaces, histories; 2. The woman of the forest; 3. The woman of the school; 4. The woman of the household; 5. The woman of the rooftops.

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