Wives, Widows and Concubines: The Conjugal Family Ideal in Colonial India
Mytheli Sreenivas
158 x 240 mm
Year of Publishing
Territorial Rights
Orient BlackSwan

Out Of Stock

The book examines how the family became the centre of intense debates about identity, community, and nation in colonial Tamil Nadu. Developing ideas about love, marriage and desire were inextricably linked to caste politics, the colonial economy, and nationalist agitation. The book argues that notions of community centred around the changing family were fundamental to shaping national identity in the early twentieth century. 

Emerging earliest among professional and mercantile elites seeking to reform colonial property relations, and fueled by the feminist and anti-caste politics of nationalist movements, this emphasis on conjugality took numerous, sometimes contradictory, forms.  On the one hand, conjugality provided a language with which women laid claim to a host of rights, from the right to inherit a deceased husband’s property to the right to seek emotional and sexual fulfillment in marriage.  On the other hand, appeals to conjugality also served to reinscribe women’s oppression both inside and outside marriage.  Mapping this complex history in relation to the culture, politics, and economy of the Tamil region, the bookopens new arenas of inquiry about the family and colonial modernity in South Asia. Recipient of the Joseph W. Elder Prize in the Indian Social Sciences from the American Institute of Indian studies this book would be of special interest to historians of modern South Asia, as well as anthropologists, sociologists with an interest in women and gender.

Mytheli Sreenivas is Assistant Professor of History and Women’s Studies at The Ohio State University.  She studied history at Yale University and the University of Pennsylvania.  Her research in Chennai, New Delhi, and London has been supported by several prestigious fellowships, including a Fulbright-Hays award, and has been published in the Journal of Women’s History and the Journal of Asian Studies.
3-6-752 Himayatnagar, Hyderabad,
500 029 Telangana
Phone: (040) 27662849, 27662850
Email: centraloffice@orientblackswan.com
Follow us on
Copyright © Orient BlackSwan, All rights reserved.
Disclaimer and Privacy Policy
Terms and Conditions
Frequently Asked Questions