Towards Gender History
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This book is a significant contribution to the ambitious project on gender history as it has tried to capture and document crucial turning-points in Indian women’s consciousness in the course of their transformation from objects to subjects. They have been portrayed in their serious engagement with the problem of relating and reconciling the redifinition of Indian self-hood (especially male identity) with the reformulation of images, identities and roles of women in the course of their participation in the national freedom struggle against the British imperlialist rule. Unlike their European counterpart, these women from the Hindu and Sikh middle classes chose to carry on their crusade for gender justice and space in public life without belligerence against men and thus won active support and goodwill of male leadership.
The geographical scope of the intensively researched essasy in this book is limited to North India particularly Panjab (excluding the Princely states) in view of the regionally differntiated intervention of the British colonialism in various regions of India. Desptie its limitation in terms of representativeness, these essays are glued together by the author’s concern for documenting continuities and changes in images, identities and roles of women in north India with special reference to Panjab. The book is composed of three distinct strands: (i) male-led reform projects in the nineteenth century; (ii) women as active agents in recasting their own identitites and roles; and (iii) their gains and predicaments as they live through the democratic experiment and make sense of the Euro-American project of globalization and its implications for their status and empowerment.
The choice of the source-material has been guided by the author’s objective of writing contributory history. Since gender history does not exclusively bleong to the realm of cultural history, these essays draw their raw materials from a variety of soruces; archival including offocial and non-official, published and unpublished in combination with oral tradition and its allied sources. Another important source consists of women’s writings their diaries, speeches and feminist magazines.
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