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I am the Widow: An Intellectual Biography of Behramji Malabari
Harmony Siganporia
Price
795.00
ISBN
9789352873906
Language
English
Pages
304
Format
Hardback
Dimensions
140 x 216 mm
Year of Publishing
2018
Territorial Rights
World
Imprint
Orient Blackswan

An examination and critical analysis of the life-work and times of Behramji Merwanji Malabari (1853–1912)—Parsi social reformer, journalist, poet, proto ethnographer/anthropologist, travel writer, and a vital catalyst of change who did much to shape the national reform discourse—I am the Widow is an intellectual biography that compares and analyses his diverse writings and concerns individually, and in relation to each other. This exercise reveals a society in transition in the late nineteenth century, providing us with an understanding of this crucial and formative moment in Indian history.

The book also evaluates Malabari’s lifelong commitment to working for the uplift of women, particularly widows, even as it explores the politics of representation and outlines some of the tensions that such a voicing of ‘women’s issues’ by male reformers such as Malabari entails.

Whether observing his own Parsi community, women, the British coloniser, or India and Indians at large, as a litterateur and quasi cultural anthropologist, Malabari possessed the ‘innate human ability to identify with another’ as much as ‘the ability to refuse to identify solely with oneself’. Malabari had two biographies written about him before he was forty, and a third two years after his death. He then vanished almost completely from the pages of Parsi and Indian history, reduced at best to a footnote. This fourth biography attempts to discover why.

This text will be a rare and valuable asset to scholars of history, culture studies and literary studies.

Harmony Siganporia is Assistant Professor in the Communication Area at MICA-India, Ahmedabad, and a musician.

Acknowledgements
Introduction

I  SETTING THE STAGE
A Biographical Sketch of the Early Years

1.1 Early Poetic Works: Niti Vinod and The Indian Muse in English Garb—Language Politics at Play in Late-19th-Century Western India
1.2 The Birth of the Indian Spectator and an Overview of Other Collections of Poetry
1.3 The Development of Malabari as Journalist, Reformer, and ‘Interpreter’
1.4 The Translation of Max Muller’s Hibbert Lectures

II  GUJARAT AND THE GUJARATIS
The Reformer-as-Ethnographer and Creator of the Template Colonial Textbook

2.1 Malabari’s Engagement with the Life and Work of Gujarati Reformer Karsandas Mulji
2.2 Readings on the ‘Present Condition’ of Mahomedans, and an Exercise in Iterations of Gujarati History
2.3 A Parsi on ‘Parsis’: Traversing the Discursive Field of the Internal Reform Movement, Malabari’s Arrival on the ‘National’ Scene, and his Engagement with Parsi Modernity
2.4 Loyalty to the Creed of Empire: Malabari on the ‘Ideal’ Colonial Subject, and Sketches’ from the Lives of Gujaratis

III  ENGAGEMENT WITH THE ‘WOMEN’S QUESTION’
From the Rukhmabai Case and Notes, to the Passing of the Age of Consent Act (1884–1891)

3.1 Dadaji Vs. Rukhmabai
3.2 The Impact of Malabari’s Notes on Infant Marriage and Enforced Widowhood
3.3 ‘The Surat Widow’s Appeal’: Tensions Inherent to a Male Reformer Engaging with Women’s Groups
3.4 A Study in Contrast: English Women and ‘The Maiden Tribute of Babylon’
3.5 ‘An Appeal from the Daughters of India’

IV  THE INDIAN EYE ON ENGLISH LIFE  
Reversing the Colonial Gaze

4.1 The Eye in Conversation with its Forebears
4.2 Malabari in the Metropolis
4.3 Movement and Mobility: The High Cost of Living in the ‘Heart of Empire’
4.4 Malabari’s Reading of English Women: An Engagement with the Nascent Suffragette Movement
4.5 Reading England and Locating Englishness in ‘the Streets and Shops’ of the Metropole, Including an Analysis of ‘Public Life’
4.6 The Eye Turns to Europe

V  THE PAMPHLETS RE-CONSIDERED
The Indian Problem, and India in 1897

Conclusion: Sedition Charge as Recompense for a Lifetime’s Loyalty
Appendix: Native Publications in India—Charge against Mr Malabari
Bibliography
Index

 

Release Date: 9/8/2018 Venue: Kasturbhai Lalbhai Museum, Shahibaug, Ahmedabad
Our Parsi Rich Have Fallen on Evil Days: A Sharp Account of the Community in the 19th Century | The Wire , October 2018
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