The Difference: Deferral of (A) Colonial Modernity: Public Debates on Domesticity in British Bengal Author(s): Dipesh Chakrabarty Reviewed work
(s): Source: History Workshop, No. 36, Colonial and Post-Colonial History (Autumn, 1993), pp. 134 Published by: Oxford University Press Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4289250 . Accessed: 24/11/2011 03:38
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ARTICLES AND ESSAYS
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The Difference Deferral of (A) Colonial Modernity: Public Debates on Domesticity in British Bengal by Dipesh Chakrabarty
For Ranajit Guha
In nationalist representations, the colonial experience of becoming modern is haunted by the fear of looking unoriginal. This is understandable, for some of the founding myths of European imperialisms of the last two hundred years were provided by narratives which, as Meaghan Morris has recently reminded us, always portrayed the modern as something that had already happened somewhere else.' Nationalist writings therefore subsume the question of difference within a search for essences, origins, authenticities, which, however, have to be amenable to global-European constructions of modernity so that the quintessentially nationalist claim of being 'different yet modern' can appear valid.2 While nationalist thought thus mobilises for its own ends the cultural field of difference, its resolutions, whether of the 'woman question' or that of the 'nation' itself, are inherently unstable and require, for their continued survival, much more than just the force of persuasive rhetoric. Differences are too heterodox for the nationalist project of modernity to contain them. The issue of domesticity helps me to chart the movement of some of these questions in colonial Bengal. That English education often brought in its trail a sense of crisis in Bengali families - a certain degree of waywardness in young men which led to their neglecting their duties towards their families and the elders - was a most commonly voiced complaint against the Young Bengal of the early nineteenth century. The British in India pushed the
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questionfurtherby promotingthe idea that husbandsand wives shouldbe friends/companionsin marriage. 'Friendship', of course, had a very particularrange of meaning in these nineteenth-centurydiscussions on domestic life. It reflected the well-knownVictorian patriarchalideals of 'companionatemarriage'which the British introducedinto India in the nineteenth century and which many Bengali male and female reformers embracedwith greatzeal.3 It is the debates aroundthis question- in particular,those aroundthe idealsof the Bengalihousewife- thatact as mystarting point. Whatinterests me, however, is a particularproblem. Hidden in these debates were were to be distinguished from statementsabout how the personal/domestic the communal/public,the distinction itself reflecting some of the compulsionsthat moderncolonialrulebroughtwithitself. Thisessayis an effort to understand manycontradictory heterodoxmoves throughwhich the and the Bengali modernhas negotiatedthis distinctionin (re)constituting itself within a world-systemfashioned by imperialism. My aim is to attend carefullyto nineteenth-century Bengali contestationsover received bourgeois models for relating the personal to the public world of civil and politicallife. The Britishinstitutedsome kindof a civil societyin colonialBengal. The moderncivil society carrieswith itself the distinctionof the 'public'and the 'private'. This distinction, in turn, raises the question of the state. As relatesto PhilippeAries says, the modernpublic/private fundamentally split the positioningof the individualwith regardto the (modern)state, i.e. the casting of the individualinto the role of the citizen.4Since the colonial relationshipwas one that denied the colonised the status of the citizen, Bengali engagementswith 'modernizing' domesticcannotbe discussed the in separationfrom nationalism,the ideology that promisedcitizenshipand the nation-state,and thus the ideal civil-political society that the domestic order would have the duty of servicing.What I discuss, however, are the waysthe projectof creatingcitizen-subjects Bengal/India for was/iscontinually disrupted by other imaginations of family, personhood and the domestic. The debates about domesticitythat I examine here took place within whatI wouldcall 'publicnarratives the natureof sociallife in the family'.I of emphasisethe word 'public'because the documentson which I base this essay are both productsas well as constituentsof a modernprint-culture or the public sphere - in the European, or even Habermasian,sense - that arose in Bengal (and elsewherein India)as a resultof our encounterwith a post-Enlightenment Europeanimperialnation.The texts discussedhere are prescriptive,many of them writtenby Bengali authors, male and female, attempting to adapt that very Victorian subject, 'domestic science', to nineteenth-century nationalisticprogrammes educatingwomen. What for these documents capture are fragmentsof Bengali self-fashioningin the context of the formationof a modern public life, for these writingswere
conversation. The assumptionthat cultures were not properlyunderstooduntil the 'domestic'had been opened up to scholarly (or governmental)scrutiny.and there is evidence to suggest the existenceof relativelyautonomousdomainsfor womenwhichthe comingof a print-culturemay have significantlyeroded.g. withinthe a emergentconventionsof bookishwritings. . the domestic. It is partly my lived. their manner of thinking. as it has elsewhere.the private.JamesMill in his The Historyof BritishIndia (1817) quotes Bentinck. We know little of their domestic life.bhadralok families.The concernwith 'domesticity' was very much a part of this civilisationalcritique of India. novels. then the Governor of Fort St George. intimate knowledge of this group that informsthe questions I discusshere. and I shouldalso explainas partof these preliminaries it is a smallgroup that of people whose historyis discussedin this essay.itself belonged to an intellectualtraditionthat objectified the idea of 'culture' and that seems to have marked much European writing and thinking on India in the eighteenth and early nineteenthcenturies. the expression 'domestic life' as it is used here was a European category of thought. the personal. .the respectablepeople of the middleclasses. Somethingof those lives can indeed be traced in my documents. empirical.withinthis so-calledpublic. Mill's quotation of Henry Strachey from the Fifth Report also pointsto a similartrainof thought:
We cannot studythe genius of the people in their own sphereof action.8
Mill. . Bengali modernityhas thus producedits own share of artefacts that narrate'the private'in 'public'e. his voluminous History. their
domestichabitsand ceremonies.aboutthe idealsof the housewife and aboutdesirableformsof marriage domesticlife. autobiographies.5This entailed.'7.was to erectuponthisconcernwiththe domestic and 'women's question' an entire edifice. tells us very little aboutwhatwent on in the everyday lives of actual. the developmentof rules for representing.Domesticity BritishBengal in
definitelysubject to a growingbody of conventionsabout desirableforms and topics of speech in public. or of any of those nationalor individual characteristics. . This history. that condemnedIndiaas an inferiorcivilisation. The idea of
.in whichcircumstances knowledgeof the a
people consists . I writeaboutthe so-called Hindu bhadralok.. as expressingthe opinion that the Europeansknew 'little or nothing of the
customs and manners of the Hindus . amusements. Madras. as is widelyknown. aspects of life seen as constitutingits opposite . In many ways. whichare essentialto a completeknowledgeof
them.then.their trades and casts [sic].6 But what I focus on is primarily conflictof attitudesthatmarkedwhatwassaidin print. etc. diaries. The word'Hindu'containswithinitselfseveralproblemsof our I colonialhistorybut unfortunately cannotaddressthem here. letters. their knowledge.
as Ranajit Guha has shown generations of nationalists to this idea of 'improvement'..was. this is how the civilising language expressed itself in an essay on 'labour': Countries where people are averse to labour and live on the flesh [of animals] obtained by hunting or on fruit and roots [phalmool]. of European thought in the 1760s. in the writing of which Vidyasagar collaborated with his friend Rajkrishna Bandyopadhyay."1 The promise of 'improvement'. That is why they enjoy the best circumstances among all nations. The aboriginals of America and Australia as well as the Negroes are still in this state. The
language of the people of England is English. 'Each country has its own language'. and they do not save anything for bad times.. The Germans.10 This awakening to a wider world. however. It is not surprising that so many of them die from hunger . The people of Kashi and the surrounding regions speak a language called Hindi. In a book on morality. are uncivilised [asabhya] . one of the earliest 'modern' children's primers (written by the Bengali reformer Vidyasagar): The language we speak is called Bengali. saw the world as both united as well as hierarchical.a possibility of which this quotation speaks and to which it sees 'hard work' as the key .
. and has since drawn . they had become ensnared in this competitive and hierarchical imagination of the world. the French.
'civilisation'. a product. the Dutch and the English are the most industrious peoples Uati] of the world. The people of Persia
speak Persian. the Swiss. of course. what theoretically made the community of civilised nations look 'open'. of being allowed into the tiny coterie of the 'leading' nations of the world .while dividing it up into more and less civilised countries. The hierarchy was defined by a scale of civilisation that constructed the world as one .12 As this civilising-cum-nationalist body of thought proliferated in the second half of the nineteenth century to incorporate influences coming out
. It was also what drew. said Bodhoday. In Arab countries the language is Arabic .why else would a single scale be universally valid? . as Lucien Febvre has shown.9 The universalist indictment of this civilising discourse aroused in Bengali (male) social reformers of the nineteenth century a strong desire to participate in what was now seen as a world-community of peoples or nations (these words being used in this period somewhat interchangeably). They live in great hardship without adequate food and clothing. Literature produced in Bengali for consumption in schools also showed that long before the new colonial intelligentsia became 'Indian' in any geo-political sense. was qualified by the hierarchical view that was part and parcel of the concept of 'civilisation' itself.
Bengali books on 'domestic science' extolled the 'attractive' qualities of 'the house of any civilised European' which was now compared to 'the abode of gods'. there is need for valour and strength in the country.Domesticity in British Bengal
of Victorian England. the idiom of gender (the imperial theme of the emasculation of the colonised) in which it was often manifested.suffered badly in comparison. were those who had been able to develop 'a balanced growth of
.15 Order was thus linked to notions of cleanliness. argued the author of another book on physical education. health and a certain regimentation of time expressed in the 'virtue' of punctuality. Obedience is the fundamental aspect of life in both politics and the family. following the likes of Samuel Smiles. It was said to be like hell . Radhanath Basak's Sarirtattvasar. . constituting in themselves objects of desire and beauty. reflected the relations of power under colonial rule. disorderly. in turn."4 Several of the books on health and medicine written in the 1860s and 70s were concerned with the supposed laziness of the Bengali male body. unclean and unhealthy.dirty. It was a place where srinkhala [discipline] reigned.14 In her book on domesticity published in the 1880s. Respectable middle-class people of our country are sometimes seen to be humiliated by lower-class Europeans in public places . 'routine' and 'order' became some of the most privileged elements in Bengali writings on domestic and personal arrangements.itself a colonial construct.18 The happiest human races.'7 Radhikaprasanna Mukhopadhyay's seemingly popular book. The question of health. Nagendrabala Saraswati combined (the ancient Hindu law-giver) Manu with Samuel Smiles to say: There cannot be any improvement in the state of the nation without improvement first in the domestic and political spheres. the personal and the domestic came to be tied ever more closely to the idea of the nation. attractive and placed in order. Indeed. things were clean. . was written to help the Bengali body grow strong. hygiene. . smelly.13 The Victorian fetishes of 'discipline'. as we shall see . Sasthyaraksha (to which he gave the English title Preservation of Health) put the question in a straightforward manner: For as long as there will be wars and other similar acts of a base nature. the author said. that 'the individual was a physical embodiment of the nation' and the latter improved 'only if the individual had undergone all-round improvement' . the meat-eating races will dominate the vegetarian ones .. Bengali books on education of the young now argued. The degree to which a society will obey rules depends on [practices] at more fundamental levels. in the latter the father or the husband is the master. The Bengali/Indian home . The internal 'discipline' of 'the European home' was now seen as a key to European prosperity and political power. and the extent to which the male body itself had become a signifier for these relationships.
.was what the housewife was now being called upon to administer.Soundmoraljudgement[dharmabuddhi]. is a 'principalvirtue' of civilisation.In administering doses of medicine. did not prevail until the brain was strongly developed. once again.20 A regimenof routineregulatingchildren'seatinghabits.he said. food.without it there could be no peace or disciplinein the family. one should not deviate from the intervalsprescribedby the doctor . It is because of thisqualitythatthe Englishget the time to accomplish much.Nowhere so among the educated. said another author. one of the earlywriterson 'domesticscience'. This was apparently what 'the scholars of Europe and America [had] recently life devisedrulesfor regulating in the discovered'.even the nursingof the sick was difficult. attendoffice at the righttime..games.Itspropermanagement seen was as the key to dovetailing'domestic'time with the time of the civil-political andthe publicsphere.21
Timewas of the essenceof thisregimen. .The lack of books in Bengali on the subjectof
. Thisis whyit is absolutelyessentialthatthereis a clockin everyhouseand that .19Nationalismwas thus also at work in redefiningchildhood. the mother explains (with echoes. for these child-rearing. could not be put in place until women were educatedin the arrangements new rulesof the body. Everythingthey do is governedby rules . civilised nations/races[jatis]are instances to be foundof people disregarding value of time and misusingit as we do.regulatingthe practicesto do with love. and play at the righttime.23 The civilising discourse that propelled both imperialist and nationalist thoughtthus producedthe figureof the 'uneducatedhousewife/mother' as one of its centralproblems. yet 'uneducated [Bengali]housewives'continuedto bring the nation's childrenup on just such a diet. he said.andthey had accordingly family .Withbad trainingand corruptmorals.6
History Workshop Journal
mentalandphysicalfaculties'.22 Without a sense of time.they only bringdisgraceto the familyand [become]the scumof the nation.a mothertells her daughter: How the English appreciatethe value of time! They work at the right time.wrote: Well-trained childrenare the prideof the country. . of Samuel Smiles). eat at the righttime. procreationand The criticaltask in all this was to reformwomen. sweets and unripefruit are all like poison to the child'. . work. Anukulchandra Datta. 'Food soaked in ghee or oil. the 'Obedience'.In Datta'sbook on 'hometraining'. and manners. the women are taughtto readit. . complainedour author.
.educatedhousewifewas almostalwaystied to another ideal.The goddessSri-lakshmi. The innatelyheterogeneouspuranicliterature ascribesthe originsof thismaliciousmythical womanto diversesources. the and ideal of the 'modern'. united in complete withher husbandin a spiritthatcombinedsubmission harmony withloyalty.24 It was thus that the idea of the 'new woman'came to be writteninto the techniques of the self that nationalism evolved.regardedas Vishnu'swife by ca A.Alakshmicame to embodya genderedconception of inauspiciousness the oppositeof all that the Hindulaw-giversupheld and
. 'we do not have a subject called "home-training". beauty and
prosperity.said Datta whom we have already quoted. by the Vedas andBrahmanas. which looked on the domesticas an inseparable partof the national. luck.25 Lakshmi. Her auspiciousnatureand her reputationfor grantingfertility.Domesticity in British Bengal
'domesticscience'was now deploredby authorswho came forward. One part consistedof Sri-Padma.The publicspherecouldnot the be erectedwithoutreconstructing private. Alakshmi [Not-Lakshmi]. has a reverse side. as 'is today one of the most popularandwidelyvenerateddeities of the Hindu pantheon. has for long been upheld in puranicHinduismas the model Hindu wife. however.Her genealogyis complexand is embedded.her darkand malevolentOther. the prospectsof our improvement.as Upendranath Dhal shows. ways. to fill in this perceivedvoid. the older patriarchal imaginationof the mythicaldivinefigureof the goddessLakshmi. 'In our country'. Adharmaand the ritesdeprecatedby the Vedas. wealth. "
Lakshmi. II how the questionof differencewas playedout in My attemptto understand of this (re)construction the domesticrealmwill take as its point of departure a generally accepted observationoften made about this history: that in nineteenth-and earlytwentieth-century women's Bengalitractssupporting educationandeven the idea of 'friendship' betweenhusbands wives. says that Vishnucreatedthe universein two-fold . David Kinsleypointsout.. in the claimsand contestationsaroundBrahmanical ideologies: The Linga-Purana . devotionandfidelity.. depend one Yet hundredper cent on this'.28 Howevershe originated.D.with a sense of patrioticduty. four Vedas. 'The countryneeds nothingso muchto promote its regenerationas good mothers'.26 role that Lakshmiplays in contemporaryHindu-Bengaliculture and her continuing association with notions of abundance. the ritesprescribed And the otherpartconsistedof Alakshmi. wealth and well-being seem to attract devotees in every Indian Paul Greenoughand Lina Fruzzettihave dealt at lengthwith the village'.declaredan epigramon the title-pageof the book. 400.
. Their faults are growing.31
. [engage in] illicit love [-] in other words. As one author said: Women are the Lakshmis of the community [samaj]. The 'modern' Lakshmi. and self-consciously articulated. and in particular whose women. If they undertake to improve themselves in the sphere of dharma and knowledge. brothers fell out with one another. she brought jealousy and malice in her trail. to be produced through education.29
Lakshmi and Alakshmi were mutually exclusive categories. of which the first were women without any formal education for it was they who were bringing the nation into disrepute. invariably sapped the vitality of the Bengali institution of the (extended) family. whatever has been proscribed by lawmakers like Manu. when left uncontrolled by the auspicious rituals of domestic work [(grihakarya).. Yajnavalka have been portrayed as the most cherished thing for
.. Clearly then the invocation of Lakshmi was not an instance of a 'tradition' fighting 'modernity'.8
as the dharma (proper moral conduct) of the householder. who always left such a household and bestowed her favours on others who. families and their (patri)lineages [kula] faced ruin and destruction. . did not flout the rules and rituals that made them auspicious. search for domestic 'happiness': Education is what brings happiness to the human race. where thieves and scoundrels are in plenty. the highest misfortune that Hindu patriarchal minds could ever imagine. was an indispensable part of a nationalist. The Lakshmi-Alakshmi cycle has often been used in pre-British and folk literature to explain family (mis)fortunes and social mobility. . When she entered a household.32 One important argument often advanced in favour of educating women was that education of the right kind would help to get rid of the poison of jealousy that ignorance produced and would thus help restore in women their true Lakshmi-like nature.30 What kind of women would be termed 'Alakshmi's' in our nineteenthcentury tracts on new domesticity? Two kinds. A house where the spirit of Alakshmi prevailed was said to be unbearable for Lakshmi. It is the lack of it . As Dhal puts it on the basis of Padmapurana: The choice of Alakshmi rests with a residence where there is constant family feud. where the guests are not honoured. where people .
[there will be] an automatic
Much of this literature agreed that it was women's innate propensity to jealousy that. improvement in social life. . that is causing unhappiness in women. and thus
exercise a good influence on the youth.
. education produces an (inordinate) fondness for luxury and comfort. 'lazy'. . a woman writing in the women's magazine Bamabodhinipatrika in October 1870. beshya (slut) etc.36 Several negative terms were used to describe such women or their behaviour: bibi (the feminine form for babu. As one author of a text-book on 'domestic science' put it: In today's women. do not look on their husbands as divine beings . Kailashbashini Devi. a dandy). They do not have much sympathy for others in the family. . boubabu (a housewife who behaves like a babu). The proper aim of women's education is to correct these faults. said: Oh dear ones! If you have acquired real knowledge. women who were allegedly arrogant. in doing up their hair in a
. defiant of authority. memsahib(European women). then give no place in your heart to memsahib-like behaviour. 'quarrelsome' and therefore bad for domestic happiness. immodest.Domesticity in British Bengal
Malice and feelings of hostility towards one another are to be found particularly in uneducated women. was now regarded by many authors as a self-evident
proposition. 0 Lord of Destiny! How many more years will it be before the minds of the women of Bengal are purged of this terrible disposition [to quarrel]?34
That it was the lack of knowledge and education that made the 'women' of this country 'uncivilised'. .. and unlike [women] in the past. wrote in this regard:
O [the Spirit of] Delusion! When will you leave this land of Bengal? . . Education itself could also be dangerous. This is not becoming in a Bengali
housewife . . Kundamala Devi.
These imaginary 'ultra-modern' women were portrayed in fiction and non-fiction as selfish and self-indulgent people who had overturned the domestic order by their disrespectful attitude towards the grihini of the household.35
But a 'lack of education' was not the only factor that made some women behave in an Alakshmi-like spirit. when will your daughters be liberated from the darkness of illusion and find happiness in the light of knowledge? . One cannot miss the urgency of what a well-known female author of this period. Mother [Bengal]. lazy. the boubabusare spending all their time massaging themselves with soap. .33 Converting women into grihalakshmis (Lakshmi of the household) through the novel means of formal education was the self-appointed task of a civilising nationalism. nor much modesty.. the mother-in-law: The present situation [is that] . It could produce its own variety of Alakshmis. . and neglectful of domestic duties.
subaltern groupswhose historieswe have not even begun to imagine. leaving [all] domestic
workto the [poor]old mother-in-law. Education was essential to the production of this desirability. a must[forcivilisedwomen]? How else would you acquire the civilisation of the bibis [European women]? Henceforth.
. The most successfulwife is she who combines educationwith skillsin householdtasks.will find her learningto be useless. and thus turn yourselves into a [race] of precocious little !39 aunts Bosu's referenceto the maidservant a reminderthatwhatwas at issuewas is not the question or even the quantum of actual physical exertion by middle-classwomen. knittingwool. The in attainment of both required modern education.Speakchaste Bengali. painting their lips red. for thatmatter. . At the same time. you are the ladies of the household. dressingup.38 The alleged neglect of grihakarma(domestic work or duties) by '(over)educated'women was the subjectof complaintand banterin Manomohan Bosu's book on Hindurituals. does it suit you to do the work of the maidservant? you spend the whole day in the kitchen. . willyou findthe timeto do needlework. don't handlethe broomstick.10
History Workshop Journal
variety of styles. The invocationof 'householdduties' or worked rather as a cryptic cultural code for the grihakarmalgrihakarya qualitiesof personhoodthat made a woman both 'modern'and desirable.
. streesiksha. one couldreasonablyassume.discipline.wouldhave been performedby hiredservants(or retainers)in manybhadralok families. .. cleanliness. andspendthe whole day discussing[the fashionable] subjectsof health. agitatefor moderationin lifestyleand spending. . don't touch or cow-dung [traditionalpurifier/cleanser] dirty cooking pots.as a book on naridharma (women'sdharma)put it: cannot be skilled in grihakarya(domestic work). A book on female education. learn manners.Speakingof 'the effort to destroy'the Hindu home now apparentlyat work in the antahpur(the inner apartmentsor women'squarters)he said: On all sides we hear the cry: Be civilised. a woman who neglects grihakaryafor the sake of learning. attendingthe [Brahmo]Samaj. devote yourselves [only] to reading books. for 'an uneducatedwoman'.and don't even go nearthe hearth!After all. etc. The physicallyharderpart of domestic labour.waxed eloquent on 'true modesty' which it distinguished from the 'uncivilised'expression of modesty in uneducated
.40 or Grihakarya householdwork was a culturallysharedway of referringto the qualitiesof grace/modestyand obedience whichwere describedin this literatureas the two signs of Lakshmi-like auspiciousness a woman. . when will you If of applyyourselvesto the cultivation the mind?Orwhen.
.42 Yet another book called 'Advice to Women' spelt out clearly the differences in behaviour that distinguished the ideal housewife (kulastree: wife belonging to the kula or lineage) from a whore (kulatalbeshya): Kulastree: of calm and composed movements. their physical movements were rushed and lacked grace. parts of body exposed.. For the purpose of this analysis. to do as one pleased. boubabu. without lust. blushing cheeks . speaks little. were terms that stood for individual assertiveness on the part of women and its undesirability. garrulous. In India. covers up her body. dresses up. They were the figures of imagination that helped demonise the 'free' and 'private' (female) individual whom the European writers on conjugality idealised. 'freedom' meant freedom from the ego.Domesticity BritishBengal in
women. 'Freedom' in the West. . beshya. were often expressed by women (which is not to deny the dissimilarities that could distinguish women's writings from men's). appear here to have run into opposition from the patriarchal structures that already existed. kulatalbeshya: fickle/restless. seeks male company. for that only leaves all modernities looking the same.43 The very interchangeable use made in these writings of words such as beshya (whore) and memsahib (European woman) suggest a nationalist insistence on cultural stereotypes in a gesture of creating and maintaininng boundaries that were patently false. giggled loudly. and [their tendency to] speak softly and little'. I will also take for granted the by-now familiar point that the literature discussed originated as part of the historical process through which a modern patriarchal discourse was fashioned by the Hindu Bengali bhadralok under the twin pressures of colonial rule and emerging nationalist sentiments. dresses simply. did not know how to conduct themselves in the company of male strangers). memsahib etc. is the first task of human
. avoids men. meant jathechhachar. The latter. several authors argued. lusty. in different forms. . Very similar points of view. the free person being one who could serve and obey voluntarily: To be able to subordinate oneself to others and to dharma . and they ran away at the sight of unfamiliar men (i. to be self-indulgent and selfish. while women with 'true modesty' were easily told by their 'downcast eyes.e. 'Friendship' between husbands and wives. I will also treat as given another obvious point: that Alakshmi. Nor is there much intellectual mileage to be had from regarding the use of the Lakshmi-figure as an instance of the so-called 'modernity of tradition'. eyes downcast. looks everywhere. it was said. [and] to free the soul from the slavery of the senses. grown in the privacy and freedom of bourgeois patriarchy. it was said.42 Students of the social history of the bhadralok will know that it was not only the male writers of the period who wrote in this vein.
46 'Freedom'. the student to the teacher . I want to read these texts . and often non-commensurable. But above all stands the
truth that I am not the lord of this life . Debates over questions of free will and determination [the italicised words are in English in the text] or [the] moral responsibility [of the individual] will never detract from the truth and value of this lesson.4
It is not my purpose here to sit in judgement over the nineteenth-century question of whether or not Bengali lives were 'free'. Here. . framed its own narrative by posing the question of 'free will' as one of its central organising themes.4 To read this conflict over the ideals of the Bengali housewife (the sugrihini) grihalakshmi versus the memsahib .as a debate about the 'freedom' of the autonomous bourgeois self on the one hand. Pal's preface to the book said: The biggest lesson I have learnt in this life is this: while I may not always [consciously] admit it. .
. The emergent and new (bourgeois) individuality in Bengal in the nineteenth and twentieth century was deeply embroiled in the question of defining personal 'freedom' in the context of the norms of the extended family. carrying a whole essay on the subject of 'freedom versus destiny'. .. the people to the king . the debate over the ideals of the grihalakshmi . . . however. [and one's] dignity and prestige to the community (samaj). .
. for nationalist and imperial historians alike. .45 After all. I do not know whether or not I really possess individual freedom . the 'woman question' has often acted as a measure of 'freedom' and quality of civilisation. That is why in Indian families. undoubtedly. for example. clan or the extended family on the other. is not so much to misread it as to stay completely within the very terms of these colonial texts themselves.
. itself an artefact of our modernity. . the disciple to the guru. in fact. Debates over 'free will' versus 'determination' or 'necessity' (sometimes read as 'fate' or 'destiny'). nor
do I deny that there may be such freedom . Investigations into 'unfreedoms' are obviously a matter of investigating concrete contexts that cannot be contained by the merely textual.12
. as I have already said. worlds we created for ourselves as we embraced our (colonial-nationalist) modernity. the king to dharma . wife to the husband and the parents-in-law. boys and girls are
subordinate to the parents.47 Bipinchandra Pal's autobiography.as illustrations of the different possible. I am concerned with the textual alone.in particular. as is known. What I read in the terms in which the Bengali debates over new forms of domesticity
. was a key idea that shaped the Bengali modern. and the idea of subordinating the individual to the will of the. . an early edition of Kapalkundala.
. I can never deny that I am not the master of my own life . provided some of the central motifs in quite a few of Bankimchandra's novels. I do not want to essentialise or fetishise the idea.
As the editor of the magazine Samachar Chandrika. constructions of the social life of the family as narrated in public. Bhabanicharan Bandyopadhyay. They can come together only by bringing each other into crisis. moved. Kashinath Mullick. etc. got routinised and hence all too codified. I will now demonstrate the structure of the second articulation by moving to an earlier period in the history of British colonialism in Bengal and begin by considering two documents from the year 1823. a semblance of homogeneous unity. though not unconnected. The other organisers were such contemporary Bengali stalwarts as Dwarkanath Tagore. workshops. Ramkamal Sen. both called into being by the exigencies of our colonial modernity.Domesticity BritishBengal in
were conducted. or its 'history'. a 'chairman' (this word is transliterated in the document as charman) was nominated and elected. But it may enable us to question the narratological closures that give this 'modernity'. a relatively obscure pamphlet published in the same year from Calcutta and now held in the British Library. III At the heart of the grihalakshmilmemsahib debate. Bhabanicharan was one of the founders of this association. discussed and voted on. Gauradeshiya Samaj. voluntary associations in Calcutta of the 1820s. Bhabanicharan was a luminary of the 'public sphere' that was emerging in Calcutta in this period. was itself part of a fledging civil society already visible in the schools. then. At this 'meeting' of the Samaj of which the published 'minutes' now form the source of our information. are two radically different. journalist and social commentator of early colonial Calcutta. over time. I choose these documents simply because they help me to lay bare the structure of a practice which. I do not claim that my reading of these texts exhausts the possibilities created in our modernity. Ramdulal De. Radhakanta Deb.they show the organisers of this voluntary association adopting some of the rituals of 'public life' that the Europeans would have brought to the country . and resolutions proposed. is entitled: Gauradeshiya samaj sangsthapanarthapratham sabhar bibaran (lit. Calcutta: The Abode of Kamala [LakshmiJ). press. were at least two contradictory articulations of the public/private distinction. offices. Both of these documents involved the prominent resident. rituals that
. They are both constitutive of our 'modernity' yet each of them posits a relationship between domesticity and civil-political life that is contradicted by the other. I have explained the way this relationship was conceived within the view that took as its task the 'civilising' of Bengal/India. The other one. one should remember. The published minutes of the Samaj themselves constitute interesting historical evidence of this . Minutes of the first meeting held in connection with the establishmentlfoundation of Gauradeshiya samaj [societylassociation]). One of the documents is a well-known tract that Bhabanicharan authored in 1823: Kalikata Kamalalaya (lit. seconded. Tarachand Chakrabarti.
only if they become the possessors and controllers of this country that we all will be saved. Books written early in the first decade of the nineteenth century by Bengali intellectuals patronised by the British interpreted the coming of the raj by invoking this code.
.. while in Rajivlochan's or Mrityunjay's prose.e. Their qualities are these: they are truthful. As intelligent as Vrihaspati. dharma is made to work in tandem with the hierarchical and competitive European discourse of 'civilisation'. for a moral community.
.is described in this document as being in a state of misery brought about by a combination of factors including the following: (a) lack of unity among 'us' [Hindus] and (b) declining status of scriptures and brahmins.. nurturing good and suppressing evil. Gauradesh etc. jati = race/nationality]. the British were described in terms directly borrowed from the Mahabharata: They hail from vilat [Pers. . they rule in the
manner of a Yudhisthira. The theme of the decline of the country. differed from Mrityunjaya's or Rajivlochan's
. 'for many years the Chief Pundit in the college of Fort William'. i. saw the restoration of dharma. Bharatvarsha. the practice of rajdharma [the dharma of the king] as the divine purpose behind British rule. They live in Calcutta in their
kothis [official buildings]. vilayat = foreign land] and they are English by jati [fat = caste. scriptures and dharma' by especially the
European missionaries.S? In Rajivlochan Mukhopadhyay's biography of the eighteenthcentury zamindar Krishnachandra Ray of Nadia."
There is no doubt a significant trace of this language in the way the minutes of Gaurasdeshiya Samaj use dharma as a short-hand for both land/country as well as for order/rule. though expressed in terms dharma. Mrityunjay Vidyalankar.. and they are great warriors who feel compassion towards their subjects.. what makes this text a witness to the emergence of a 'public life' for the Bengali middle classes in Calcutta is the main subject that was discussed at the meeting. More importantly. In the languagte of the minutes. the country.49The appeal that this document makes to a dharmic code in discussing a political and social order will not surprise students of Bengali history.variously named as Hindusthan. Otherwise the yavana [the Muslims] will destroy
possess complete self control [Uitendriya:one who has conquered the (temptations of) the sense organs]. as wealthy as Kuvera.
would have been unimaginable in pre-British India.. do not envy others. dharma does not speak to any idea of 'nation' or 'civilisation'. The country . that is. It was nothing other than 'the state of the country' and the possibilities of 'improvement'. a Hindu kingdom. proper action] of the land. One aim of the Samaj's resolve to 'protect Hindu dharma' was to prevent 'the
humiliation of . . However. as strong as Arjuna.. all compounded by ignorance on the part of the rulers [the British] of the dharma [moral order. the minutes of the Samaj are interestingly different..
Even the desire for the unity of the Hindus reveals itself here as an emulative desire on the part of the colonised: 'It is not possible for an individual to achieve by solitary effort things that would be of use and benefit to this country .
. resolutions. 'a country lacking in printing presses and printed material .52 The premise of this whole discussion was the idea of 'improvement' that we have already recognised as central to the idea of 'civilisation'. There is not yet an explicit desire for the modern nation-state here. will find the spread of harmful behaviour impossible to check.voluntary associations. prevents us from either acknowledging our sad circumstances or from making any effort to overcome them. [to help disseminate] advice on conduct and rituals. for.53 These minutes thus anticipate many of the features that came to characterise nationalist thought as the century wore on: the desire for a 'national' (still unclear in its outlines) unity. but words like 'humiliation' and 'dependence' do refer us back to a proto-national spirit that runs through this document and that distinguishes it from the texts of Rajivlochan Mukhopadhyay or Mrityunjay Vidyalankar who wrote in the early 1800s. the minutes continue: the people of India [Bharat] were superior to the inhabitants of other islands. 'In the very distant past'.elections. for a vigorous 'public sphere' . European people . It was resolved at this meeting that the new 'Gauradeshiya Sabha of the bhadralok [respectable people of the middle classes]' would strive to eradicate the evil customs of the country by publishing Bengali translations of informative books from other countries. formal meetings with all the rituals of 'public' life . votes. . The unspeakable degree of our degradation can be comprehended if we compare our current state with the way intelligence and knowledge have influenced [other people]. to make [the holding of] meetings and discussions possible'. .. was unity and this was to be achieved by forming voluntary associations or 'societies' as he put it: 'That we seldom unite on any issue can be put down to the fact that the Hindus have no society [the English word is used here] .Domesticity BritishBengal in
treatment of the subject in that it now included explicit comparison with European countries and their histories. finally. and the desire. far less stop'.. by promoting discussions among the scholars and pundits. . They have become dependent and have been humiliated [and are now] immersed in abject misery.built into them. . The first requirement. .... by starting a school and by acquiring European machinery to help the cause of knowledge. accomplish even the most difficult tasks with ease because they organise themselves into societies'. the desire for improvement in the state of the country. the recording of minutes and other related practices . . presses and printed material promoting discussion on matters of public interest. Ramkamal Sen argued at this meeting. . as it was observed in the minutes. . But a combination of vanity and [our] current customs .
unlike.5 In the same spirit of obsequiousness. said Bhabanicharan. Kamala (or Lakshmi). He had also worked in various capacities for a number of European business firms in the city.56The word kamalalaya describing Calcutta as the abode of the goddess of wealth. betrays this concern. and Gauradeshiya samaj on the other. in this context. It is a book written very much in the colonial context and shares some of the sentiments expressed by both Rajivlochan Mukhopadhyay and Mrityunjay Vidyalankar on the one hand. were not being observed in the proper spirit. who handles the city with a certain degree of anxiety and trepidation and who is therefore eager to find out about its ways. he says. Yet. 1823. public/private. readers will recall. in particular the role that 'new' money could play in undermining the 'proper' model of social order and the place of the Brahmins within it. KK is an interesting instance of the dharmic code being used to produce and organise an articulation of the relationship between domestic and civil-political life which was quite antithetical to that produced under the sign of 'civilisation'. as his book KK shows. however. a newcomer from the country. KK is written in the form of a dialogue between an 'urban dweller'. In other words. schools) 'to protect 55 dharma'. Bhabanicharan. for it allowed people to engage in 'shameful acts'. had for generations occupied the position of a subordinate elite serving powerful rulers including the Muslims. to consider Bhabanicharan Bandyopadhyay's tract Kalikata kamalalaya (hereafter KK) published in the same year as the minutes of the Samaj. home/world or domestic/official were not the distinctions that he would have applied to his own life. A certain spirit of sycophancy therefore came 'naturally' to these people.16
It is instructive. Unlike the texts of the Fort William College pundits. there is a tendency in KK to please the British. KK displays an inherent anxiety over the changes brought about by social mobility in Calcutta. his participation in what we would now categorise as Bengali 'public life' was by no means negligible. a Brahmin who lives and works in Calcutta.e. as a guide to 'good conduct' in the urban life of Calcutta. KK described the English as a 'dharmic and fair-minded people' who were only performing their royal duty by providing education (i. a trait quite in keeping with the history of Bengali Brahmins who. say. As in the writings of the former. was one of the architects of Gauradeshiya Samaj and was an important editor in the emergent world of Bengali journalism. Being able to win praise from one's employers was something to be proudly displayed a biography of Bhabanicharan published in 1849 after his death devoted a whole section to listing the occasions on which he had secured such praise [kartadiger prashangsha]. had already acquired a bad name
. ostentatious displays of money and wealth often being more important than any sacred intent. their Maharashtrian counterparts. and a 'stranger'. The celebration of Durga Puja (worshipping of Goddess Durga) in Calcutta. The dissolution of kinship bonds in the city is mourned by the 'urban dweller' in KK. Even religious ceremonies.
the true Hindu strove to maintain a critical symbolic boundary between the three spheres of action (karma) that defined life: daivakarma (action to do with the realm of gods). some even going to the length of shaving their beards on the plea that they have to attend office . 'I hear that in Calcutta a large number of people have given up the right codes of conduct'.complete with shoe laces . he says. mockingly. '. On the death of their parents. that they eat too early (a reference. In spite of the new structuring of the day that the colonial civil-political society required. .57 One sees why Bhabanicharan participated in the efforts of Gauradeshiya Samaj: constructing proper rules of proper conduct for the residents of colonial Calcutta is a concern shared by KK and the minutes of the Samaj.high heels. They have abandoned the dhoti and have taken to wearing tunic. 'festival of baijis [dancing girls]'. but a Hindu who behaves like that is a Hindu only in appearance [Hindubeshdhari: one dressed as a Hindu]'. and retire immediately after the evening meal? To continue with this list of complaints against the people of Calcutta: [They] do not any longer observe the [life-cycle] ceremonies . food and clothes. as they find these ceremonies repulsive . . . I think. . . Their speech is a mixture of their own language and those of foreign races . The 'urban dweller' in KK begins by conceding the validity of these charges. . 'spend the entire day working'. Uncut hair is the only sign of mourning they [are prepared to] wear. 'What you have heard is true'. have given up the daily rite of sandhya bandana [evening prayers] and other similar actions . etc. but let me highlight the important ones: salaried (or paid) work demanding long and fixed hours ['the whole day']. pants and black leather boots that come in all different shapes . sacred observances. . . . . . neglect of daily. he asks. . They give no thought to what they wear or eat and [in these matters] just please themselves . . . leave home too early in the morning. Is it true.Domesticity BritishBengal in
among many who called it. plain head. Perhaps they have not read any shastras [scriptures] in Sanskrit. They have stopped reading the scriptures and learn only Persian and English. . blunt nose . 'chandelier puja'. . why else would they want to use yavanic [Muslim/foreign] speech when one's own language would do just as
These charges brought against the Calcutta bhadralok are self-explanatory. pitrikarma (actions pertaining to the realm of one's ancestors). . 'occasion for the worship of one's wife's jewellery and sarees'. and vishaykarma
. They would employ [without checking] any stranger that came along and claimed to be a Brahmin cook . . They cannot read or write Bengali and do not consider Bengali scriptures worthy of their attention . and adds. return home late. they participate in the funeral ceremonies only by proxy. the stranger says in KK. to the emerging ritual of the breakfast). impurity of language.
. warrant.). and then entertain visitors. he asked. The list speaks for itself: non-suit.
. and touch Ganga water to purify themselves.18
(action to do with the realm of worldly interests. agent. Having rested for a while after the meal. court.
. higher self: People with important occupations such as diwani or mutasuddiship wake up early and meet with and talk to different kinds of people [visitors]
[only] after completing their morning ablutions . follow the same pattern. have less to give away in charity and can afford to entertain only a smaller number of [importunate] visitors. bhadralok with worldly interests) were always able to separate the self-in-the-world from a transcendental. captain. 'when dealing with words that do not translate into Bengali or Sanskrit?' Bhabanicharan actually produces a list of such unavoidable words of which the following are in English. Later on they rub their bodies with oil . double. summons. they change into a fresh set of clothes. power etc. attachment. bills.' It is clear that these words belonged to the sordid domain of vishaykarma.e. i. the realm of worldly interests. . decree. But they have to work even harder and have even less to eat or give away. True. eat. premium. They say their evening
prayers. to mark the boundaries between the domains seems to have been a common practice among the upper-castes in Calcutta in the early part of the nineteenth century. company. dismiss. fame. which is where (British) rule was and Bhabanicharan's ideal was to prevent these words from polluting the purer domains of daivakarma and pitrikarma. surgeon [sergeant?]. collector. Using clothes. Middle-class
are not wealthy .59 Of particular interest to us is how Bhabanicharan handled the question of the polluting effects of using foreign languages. . The more indigent bhadralok also live by the same ideas. treasury. .e. due. judge. On
returning home. They do not stay at work any longer than necessary . undertaken in pursuit of wealth. . wash themselves. valivashya etc. . A later description of Calcutta in the days of Rammohun Roy said: The worldly [vishayi] Brahmins of Calcutta conducted their vishaykarma under the English but took special care to protect the dominance and
. The most commendable of the vishayi bhadralok (i. many foreign words had equivalents in Sanskrit and the bhadralok were indeed at fault when they did not use them. his 'urban dweller' says in effect. with the difference that they work harder. they put on beautiful garments and proceed to their places of work in palanquins or other handsome
carriages. subpoena. Before eating. . But 'what should we do'. . Ganga water etc. they engage in [different] puja
(worship) ceremonies [including] homa sacrifice. livelihood. common law. discount.
The king must uphold dharma. But what
. and so the latter must learn the ways of the foreigner king .Domesticity in British Bengal
prestige of the Brahmins in the eyes of their own people. as otherwise the business of the state [rajkarma]would be impossible to pursue'.e. . the author of KK can only plead his lack of power and the force of circumstances. Those who found this routine too difficult made a habit of completing their evening prayer. this 'art of living' that Bhabanicharan and his contemporaries had developed for themselves in the face of the demands that the coming of a modern civil society made of them. especially in matters to do with the administration of royal justice
Or mark his pragmatism as well as the somewhat pathetic declaration of helplessness in handling English words that did not translate into Bengali but which were nevertheless 'unavoidable' in the pursuit of material well-being: Dosha [bad effect] accrues to a person if he uses those [English. and eat in the eighth part of the day [about midnight] .1 Let us pause a little over this classificatory framework. they would offer Brahmins money and other objects [naivedya: objects offered to sacred powers] and that itself cancelled out all their dosha. or his own involvement in the Gauradeshiya Samaj? What kind of karma was it to advocate and work for the 'enlightenment' and 'improvement' of one's own country or people? Was it vishaykarma or was it simply unclassifiable in Bhabanicharan's terms? In the first place. They washed themselves every evening on returning home from work and thus cleansed themselves of the bad effects [dosha] born of [the day-long] contact with the mlechha [untouchable. for example. Arabic or Persian] words in the conduct of daivakarma and pitrikarma. it is the duty of the Brahmin to assist the king in this task. for it has at the outset abnegated the capacity to rule in the material world. homa and other pujas in the morning before they left for office.thus went his argument regarding English education for Indians. one has to note that the self-in-the-world of Bhabanicharan's construction cannot be a nationalist self. his own act of writing and publishing KK. Further. Where would the state and the civil society belong in terms of this framework? How indeed would Bhabanicharan classify his own involvement in the public sphere. the English]. They would then complete their sandhya [evening prayer] and other [rituals of] puja [worship]. In the face of British rule. What else could one do but adopt them. . 'I see no dosha coming from [Brahmins or Hindus] learning the knowledge of the rulers of the land. i. 62 Very similar was his defence of the use of English words by Bengalis: Rulers of every race Uati] put into circulation words or expressions belonging to their own tongue.
his own involvement in a proto-nationalist voluntary association like Gauradeshiya samaj. by looking on it as a contingency and an external constraint.e. He does not even mention women or children. and grihakarma [household work] her service to agni [the fire-god]'. had implications for Bhabanicharan's understanding of domesticity. An unmistakble expression of the nationalist and citizenly desire to appropriate the instruments of 'modern' rule is absent from this text. his personal refuge in love from the competitive world of the public sphere.6 The
. If it were to be placed in the category of vishaykarma. where the Brahmin. After all. patriarchal householder.65 The pursuit of wealth and well-being . as did jokes and lighthearted exchanges. marriage is her upanayana [the ritual that makes a man twice-born]. presumably because it was assumed that she was only a derived aspect of the male grihi. That is why Bhabanicharan mentioned vishaykarma and jokes together. one of the many one has to negotiate in the domain of vishaykarma. Bhabanicharan's trichotomous division of 'action' into vaishayik. As a later publication on the moral conduct of the Hindu male householder put it: 'one might engage in improper karma if that was essential to the maintenance of one's family'. the nation) by separating it from the purer aspects of personhood. upper-caste.20
Journal HistoryWorkshop harm is done in using them in conducting vishaykarma or indeed in the context of jokes and lighthearted conversations?'
KK thus does not share the (later) nationalist urge to translate into Indian languages English words that had to do with modern statecraft or modern technology. their existence is contained within the definition of the life of the male.i. for they both belonged to an area of life where the burden of existence was made bearable only by a spirit of lightheartedness. KK instead marginalises the state (and by implication. by dint of its sacredness.could not be born of such a spirit. say. The serious business of 'nationalism' . in the same breath as it were.could not be a sacred task as it took one into relationships that necessarily admitted of exceptions to the more serious rules of living. There is no conception here of the 'home' being the man's castle.or indeed the all-consuming conception of the nation itself that one day. paitrik and daiva is thus incapable of classifying. This separation of the purer part of the self from the more polluting proceedings of public life and of the civil society. there would be no recognition of the (nationalist) desire to rule that the Samaj itself articulated. theoretically. cohabiting with and serving the husband is [the equivalent of] staying with and serving the guru. was happy to forsake all claims to rule and play second fiddle to the king. for instance. would demand the sacrifice of life at its altar . the housewife is not a separate subject of discussion here. or of the dynamics of power-relations that led to the emergence of such a desire. life in civil-political society . The grihini. says Manu of the female life-cycle: 'Know that for a woman. Nor does griha or home play any part in his thought as a spatial entity.
was visualised as a part of the kula. punctuality. in its highest form. The Bengali modern. as a spatial entity. the two horizons as it were to which this compound word (griha = house + Lakshmi) points us.while certain actions pertaining to vishaykarma on the other hand (dealing with importunate visitors. would have been subject to this overall framework. there was an emphasis to the contrary. The civil society here was a matter of compulsion.Domesticity BritishBengal in
Let me then highlight the nature of the opposition between the two articulations of the domestic and the civil-political that Bengali modernity entailed. There is. of unfreedom. too. routine. a forced interruption of more important/purer acts. a consciousness that always perceived the present as 'unhappy' and therefore defined its worldly engagement as a struggle for 'happiness' (treated as synonymous with 'freedom') which was to be achieved within a historicised future. would not have been relevant as such to the way Bhabanicharan outlined the dharma of the grihi. to the extent that
. were always found lacking in the discipline and beauty that marked the typical English 'home' which embodied the desired historical future. In the world that KK depicts.68 Discipline in public and personal life called for a dislodgment of the self from the mytho-religious time of the kula and its insertion into the historical narrative of 'freedom/happiness'. say) could be conducted from home. the self-conception of the patriarchal. a self-conception that was more tied to a mytho-religious idea of time than to the temporality of secular history. Elsewhere I have discussed 'history' itself as a sign of this consciousness and described how in the nineteenth century Bengali imagination of the griha (home/house) came to embody this split whereby Bengali homes. patrilineal and patrilocal extended family. The self. And certain actions to do with pitri and daiva karma were indeed to be undertaken outside of the domestic space pilgrimage or tirthayatra would be a prominent example . the ideal householder never spent more time at work than was minimally needed and concentrated on the higher levels of pitri and daiva karma. If anything. such as the question of segregation of the sexes. do not resonate through KK. One is the horizon of the nineteenth-century European imagination of progress which was predicated on a split structure of consciousness. nothing in Bhabanicharan's text that suggested any attraction to the idea that the time of the household should keep pace with the time of the civil-political society.67 The internal cultural organisation of the domestic space. in addition. The themes of discipline. This dharma was made up of all the three karmas. standing for our present. an opposition that I read into the neologism grihalakshmi. all those particular constructions of human sociality that the themes of 'progress' and 'civilisation' made both desirable and necessary and that so characterise what later nationalists wrote on domestic life.
RajnarayanBose's essay se kal ar e kal (1873) (Then and Now).69 or One didnot haveto go to Englandto findout aboutdomestichappiness its homes. heterogeneous nationalist text irreducible to any one simple argument. an eclectic. untilcivilisation showsthem the way to attainit. . Both male andfemalebodiessignifydegeneration Rajnarayan the reasons for but
. was the embodimentof this unhappy consciousnessstrugglingto transformitself.. of Yet Bengalipublicnarratives the social life of the familywere replete at the same time with the opposite theme. 'whenwe realisehow unhappythe couplesof our countryare . Indian[couples]prove relationship to be extremelyunhappy.. of unhappiness. . was eloquenton the subject: The happiness of a man who has an enlightened partner is quite complete. It shares somethingof Bhabanicharan's positions in KK in the way it situates the questionof labourby connectingdomesticlife and civil society.' Very few persons in our country know how the ideal husband-wife shouldbe.that the value of the signwas changedfrompositiveto negative. .. The people of this countrydo not know the pleasureof domesticlife.72 latterfor The is Rajnarayan a period of decline and this is a culturalfact he readsoff the (gendered) Bengali body which he locates. depending on the particular gender of the body in question. wrote Das Krishnabhabini in the 1880sin her accountof her travelsin England. .a view of the nineteenth centuryas 'the dark ages' or kaliyuga.definedas the period 'from the beginning of English rule to the time of the founding of the Hindu College '.70 This was precisely the voice of the colonial modem looking to orient domesticityto the requirementsof the civil-political. in very differenthistoriesof labour.It followedthe civilisingdiscoursein picturing presentas the and thereforein need of reformanyway.22
s/he was the subject of this fable.Historicaltime was saturatedhere with the messageof 'improvement'. however. that of 'degeneration'.We also see the sameuse unhappy of 'woman' as a signifierof the quality of the times with the difference. a feature to which Sumit Sarkarhas recently drawn our attention. if not the source. 'We become very sad'. andindeedthey cannotknow. An essaythatyoungMadhusudan allegedabsencein Bengali/Indian Dutt wrote in 1842on women'seducationwhile he was still at school. This is the reasonwhy. this was the flip-side of the narrative of improvement. To a degree. offers some well-known examples of this genre.71 This was a theme that articulatedthe personal/domestic with the nationalin such a way that the civil-political society itself came to be seen as the site. Se kal ar e kal is an impressionistic comparisonof 'then'.with 'now'(whichcoveredthe yearssince).
is not at all suited to this country.. The English [style of] exertion is not right for this land. of the routine of grihakarya (domestic work).73 However. Rajnarayan's contemporary writer Bhudev Mukhopadhyay's essays on
. their male counterparts.. The women of older times were not like that . The female body is weak because of the neglect. It is within this autonomy that this text. Civil-political life itself is the object of criticism in this mode of thinking. But the complaint against the rushed 'morning meal' (breakfast?) repeats a theme that we have already come across in KK and refers to a conception of an alternative rhythm/structureof everyday life autonomous of the civil society. if the women of 'now' did not work hard enough at home and this contributed to their declining physical strength. The rule that the present rulers have introduced of working continuously from ten to four. definitely causes their health to break down. . There is no longer any doubt that the introduction of English civilisation into this coutnry has seen an excessive rise in [the demand for] labour. the rituals of auspiciousness that were meant to bind women to the order of the kula: The women of those times were more hard-working than women at present. he bemoans the absence of physical sports and exercise facilities for children. this is not a univocal text. .74 Once again. by 'the women of the present times'. The women of the past were [also] capable of more compassion and affection than women today. The educated women of our country now are reluctant to do physical labour or grihakarya . These days. Especially. . according to Rajnarayan. Besides.Domesticity BritishBengal in
are interestingly different. worked only too hard under the new office-routine instituted by the British. Rajnrayan is no doubt in part responding to the imperialist charge of 'effeteness' that the British brought against Bengali men and their sense of masculinity. locates the question(s) of labour/action (karma) and domesticity. the practice of children having to rush to school immediately after their [morning] meal and [being obliged] to spend the day in company of hundreds of others.75 In the passage that follows the one quoted. We can never work as hard as the English.. The body tires quickly if one exerts oneself when the sun is strong. as does KK. their working hours were all too inappropriate: Another factor reducing the vitality of the men of our times is the excessive and untimely labour they have to undertake.. their perspiring bodies subjected to the confined air of one building. women in well-to-do families are completely dependent on the [labour of the] servants and averse to grihakarya.
no better example of this in bhadralok history than the phenomenon of the nineteenth-century Bengali saint Ramakrishna whose (posthumously published) kathamrita (Gospel). using the English words 'drill' and 'discipline'.he explains. The public sphere. all of which he marginalises in portions of his text as simply external constraints imposed on a more permanent and deeper rhythm of life revealed in the Hindu cycles of nityachar (everyday rituals) and naimittikachar (rites of passage).30 [am] that is the time [assigned in the scriptures] for work related to the earning of one's livelihood. i. of capitalism.76On the other hand. Nowadays even twenty four hours do not seem enough. from 9 to 10. repeat this demand of autonomy by illustrating. This is how. . doubles up as a powerful critique of civil-political society itself. were at least these two contrary ways of bringing together the domestic and the national in public narratives of the social life of the family. How different our circumstances are now from those of the ancients! One and a half hours' work was [once] sufficient to enable one to earn money. for us.24
the rituals of the Hindu domesticity. . Bhudev's enthusiasm for these rituals is derived from the nationalist desire for discipline in private and public life . consistently exhorted the male Bengali householder (grihi) to separate himself from the nationalist impulse and denigrated the public sphere and the regimen of salaried employment (chakri) as a conflicted. in turn.30 so that they can be at work on time. Many of them. how the practice of these rituals enhanced 'one's vitality and capacity for work'. . in this understanding is not embraced within the higher meaning of life. then. some of the contradictions that nationalist thought had to carry with it in attempting to assimilate to its own ends the ideology of the kula. On the one hand. of course. and bourgeois regimes of discipline and historical time. .
. however.78 What was heard in the compound word grihalakshmi in the nineteenth century.e.77 Written about sixty years after KK. Bhudev handles the problem of the 'new' work routine that takes up the whole day: It is the first half of the third part of the day. therefore. . as Sumit Sarkar and Partha Chatterjee have shown. have to complete their afternoon and evening prayers in the morning . There is. These days the working [chakuria] people are forced to have their [midday] meal between 9 and 10. One has to bend to its compulsion but not let it enter one's soul. corrupting world where one was necessarily compromised. his critique of British rule on the strength of a theory of karma strongly reminiscent of that of KK. these words acknowledge the powerful and inexorable presence of the new order of work and civil society and their capacity to disrupt violently the dharmic arrangement of time for the male householder. Acharprabandha. work. One way was to subordinate domesticity and personhood to the project of the citizen-subject and the goals of the civil-political sphere which. for instance.
79 Let us put aside the completely rhetorical figures of quicker and slower. for if this subject is. Europe had gone through a much slower. .Colonial rule telescoped the entire process for India within one or two generations. . The other was to imagine a connection between the domestic and a mytho-religious social .whereby the civil society itself became a problem. ethnicity. . comments Sarkar in his valuable essay on Ramakrishna. Questions of this history/ modernity have to be situated within a recognition of its 'not-one-ness'. What all this amounts to saying. .often equated in conscious nationalist writing with 'community' or the 'nation' . . it seems to me. transition spanning some five hundred years . now that more historical time has elapsed and a larger number of generations subjected to its regime? It is unfortunate that Sarkar buries the question/histories of personhood in a phrasing that he does not himself contemplate: 'What made chakri
. unitary history of its becoming.in Domesticity BritishBengal
were seen as the site of work for the acquisition of improvement and happiness. gender. and then adds the following: What made chakri intolerable was . and phased. . for instance. at one and the same time. is that the Bengali modern. .oppressions produced by and productive of the categories of class. nation. 'The precise nature and implications of this [bhadralok] aversion to chakri . implicated as it is in the structures and relationships of power that produce the social-justice narratives of the public sphere . or smoother and bumpier. embodied above all in the new rigorous discipline of work regulated by clock-time. Disciplinary time was a particularly abrupt and imposed innovation in colonial India. . . state. There cannot therefore be any one.is constituted by tensions that relate to each other asymptotically. a constraint whose coercive nature was to be tolerated but never enjoyed. This produces a fundamental problem for the construction of historical narratives. This 'history' that is ceaselessly gathered up as one by the exigencies of the historian's profession and by the needs of the state and governmentality. Chakri thus became a 'chronotype' [sic] of alienated time and space'. needs some analysis'. etc. . passages in histories. its connotation of impersonal cash nexus and authority. is always already not-one. how can the historicist imagination of the historian speak for it (except by subordinating the whole to what is in effect only a part of it)? This is where I cannot agree with Sumit Sarkar's reduction. Let us also not consider the obvious question that suggests itself if one takes the historicist argument here seriously: are the bhadralok today necessarily more enamoured of office-discipline than their nineteenth-century ancestors. of the bhadralok critique of chakri (waged/salaried work) and civil society to a problem of historical time without in any way problematising that very conception of time itself. both historicist and not.
however. Dayamayi Dasi wrote this tract on kulakaminir kartabya (duties of the woman of the kula) which her husband published after her death. (Perhaps it would not be unkind to suggest that in nineteenth-century Bengal.26
intolerable was . being tied to the mytho-religious time of the kula. kula here was a term that tied
.and therefore the same again the world over . 'face-to-face'. The stamp of the bourgeois project of European modernity. bespeaks a familiar narrative of transition to capitalist-modernity which renders all 'pre-capitalist' relations the same 'personal'. remnants of a past. The sociologese of this sentence. by their very nature. it is.. Nor are these ideas mere historical residues. to excise. entails. The very title of the book speaks of its concern with such feelings of devotion and its given English title places it firmly within the tradition of Bengali Victoriana. to fall outside of. then. men who fancied themselves as 'modern' in relation to their own times. 'cash nexus' and 'authority'. of educating women to be both companions to their husbands as well as being devoted to them. are incapable of re-presencing what is not secularhistoricist. The Bengali modem is not an 'incomplete' modern or even a 'bad' colonial one compared to some 'good' metropolitan model. its connotation of impersonal [emph. except in an anthropologising mode. is precisely its other . To say this is not to deny the cruelties of the patriarchal orders that this neologism of Bengali modernity. The modern or capitalist. added] cash nexus and authority'. Let me elaborate a little further on this by discussing an obscure but by no means untypical text from the nineteenth century: a booklet called Patibrata dharma (with the English title: A Treatise on Female Chastity) written around 1870 by a Bengali woman called Dayamayi Dasi. the difference between the two! Yet this 'difference' is what has been at issue in my reading of Bengali public narratives of the social life of the family. . or even better. The grihalakshmi is not a Rousseauvian solution of the question of 'womanhood' in phallocratic bourgeois modernity . write. also escapes and exceeds bourgeois time in all the three different senses that Lyotard has read into the word 'exceed' in a different context: to pass beyond. took pride in possessing wives who could read. to claim that no adequate critique of this modernity can be mounted or practiced from within secular-historicist narratives alone which. left there only because the colonial transition to modernity did not afford us the allegedly leisurely pace of the transformation in Europe. Encouraged by her husband to learn to read and write. hence sociologising.and the transition is best understood by essentialising. grihalakshmi. educated and companionable but modest and obedient at the
same time.) In that sense. embedded in kinship and so on and so forth. is unmistakably present here.81 The expression grihalakshmi shares in ideas of personhood that do not owe their existence to the bourgeois projects that European imperialism brought to India. colonial rule introduced this model into bhadralok lives
and the expression grihalakshmi partakes of it. its use of 'impersonal'. publish.the model of Sophy. But the concept of grihalakshmi.
that the highestformof personhoodwas one constitutedby the idea of self-sacrifice.parampriyaas he gives affection.It is because he helps cover [woman'sshame] that he is called bharta. expressher sense of nationalism: The land blessed with women of such nature [i.85 is a recurrent of Indianpubliclife . and that is why the son is valued. Women writing in Bamabodhini patrika argued that knowledge would 'becomegraceful'in womenonly if they couldat the sametime retain'allthe good qualities to be found in Hindu women' such as 'modesty. Literacyitselfwas partof theirexperienceof a new-foundindividuality principleof kula. were also waysof talkingaboutformations of pleasure. andthe people of thatcountryshould treattheirwomen as goddesses. quoting from the to Brahmavaivartapurana.He is pati because he nurtures.in Domesticity BritishBengal
the domestic to the national. he is the lord of the body.. was the idea of the autonomous individual existing for her own ends was somethingthat animatedthis modern. He is a bandhu as he shares happiness.ramanbecausehe givespleasure. returnsas the son. humility. husbandis dearerthaneven a hundredsons.Not only that. for all theirundeniablephallocentrism. not in the secularspiritof the civic virtue that Rousseau would have applauded but in a spirit of subordinationto the non-secularand parochialprincipleof dharma. idea of livingfor others.workedout here in publicnarratives the social life of the family. But kula. The
.He is swamibecauseit is to himthatthe body belongs. As Dayamayi Dasi said.e. that is why he is [called] kanta. indeed experiencedsome measureof 'companionship' that a 'friendship' permittedthis diffusionof knowledgebetween the sexes.82 Besides. grihalakshmi etc.patience[and]self-sacrifice'. Women woman that the ideal of citizen-subject whose writingscirculatedin the public sphere were often those who had with theirhusbands.non-bourgeoisand non-secularpersonhood. by in the contextof the familiesstructured the patriarchal this was never achievedwithoutstruggleandpain. theme in modern This softness. He fulfils [woman's]desires.emotionsand ideas of good life that associatedthemselveswith models of non-autonomous. throughhis own semen.84 the How would we understandthis speech if we were not to classifyit as some specimen of a 'low' or 'false' consciousnesswaiting to be 'raised'by the politicalsubject?What kind of a modem was DayamayiDasi? To be sure. and. the very act of writingsuch books was part of becomingthe new demanded.It is he who. devoted to their to is husbands] comparable heaven. the projectof bourgeoisindividuality a strongfactorin her modernity.83 of Yet the ideology of the patriarchy the kula dripsout of every word of whatDayamayiwrote in praiseof this friendshipandintimacy: A woman has no better friend than her husband. But for a kulastree.
The connectionbetweenthese pleasures and the ideology of the auspiciousgrihalakshmi. . in a woman was also inauspicious.jaya.Forthe conceptionof mangal associatedwith the idea of 'auspiciousness' whichthe survivalof the line on
. and Myfirstpointis thatanirreducible categoryof 'beauty'.88 emphasisethe connectionbetween the pleasant and the auspiciousin the
A girlshouldbe given a namethatis pleasantto pronounce[and]thathas no obliquemeanings.89 That is why. whichis intimatelytied to the concernforwell-beingof the kula.' My secondpoint followsfromthis.. She is not a maidservant. sahadharmini.. grihalakshmi. was an integral part of the categories with which the patriarchal Bengalimodernconsolidatedits ideology of new domesticityin had the contextof a growingpublicspherethatcolonialism instituted.. These texts on modernBengali domesticityharpon the association between 'womanhood'and 'pleasantness'. was not at all innocent of power. ardhangarupini:
Even a five-yearold child will be able to tell from these names that the Hinduwomanis not a slave even if she is skilledin domesticwork. end in a long vowel and bring to [the bearer of the name] blessings from the uttererof it.'Mukhara[sharp-tongued] another is name for women of unpleasant speech. ankalakshmi.Alakshmiwas not only inauspiwhatwas unpleasant cious. dominationand even cruelty and violence but. The Hinduwomanis an object of greataffection. or.86 The kula. grihini. The [name]shouldfillthe heartwithfeelingsof affection [and] joy.I want make two points relating to Dayamayi Dasi's and others' affectionate to of of description the patriarchy the kula. It should signify mangal [auspiciousness].
bharya.a non-secular non-universalistic sense of aestheticscirculatesin these writingspointingus to a certain subject of pleasure/emotionthat speaks throughthese documents. our author explained. and relativelyfamiliar.bourgeoisprojectof educatingwomen in orderto allow theminto the modernandmalepublicsphere. all significantly endingwith a long vowel . Servingher husbanddoes not makeher a keptwoman .87 A booklet on methods of examining prospectivebrideswarnedthatwomenwithnamesthatevoked Some texts quoted Manu to feelings of terror should not be married.care and pride. as I have argued elsewhere. it was never merelya rusefor stagingthe secular-historicist projectof the citizen-subject.28
idea. Even the presence of a single mukharawoman can drive peace away from a householdfor ever'. said a book called Bangamahila [The women of Bengal]. whateverelse it may have been. all the Sanskritterms for 'wife' were meant to sound pleasant. alwaysexceedsa straightforward. correspondingly. she was unpleasantas well. then.
the most important Hindu-Bengali mother-goddesses. where the human realm is never separated from the realms of gods and spirits. the family) and my husband. can be only very inadequately translated as 'material prosperity' or simply 'well-being'. caught between the asymptotic perspectives of the citizen-subject and of the grihalakshmi.. as Kant would remind us92)'comparable to heaven' (to return to the language of Dayamayi Dasi). suspension'. therefore 'must not only be determined in its historical objectivity.91 Needless to say. with the popular tales and songs that have celebrated.94 But even the mytho-religious does not wrap up the Bengali modern. always escaped and exceeded the historicist imagination that was/is absolutely essential to thinking the modern nation-state (as distinct from the more communal idea of the 'nation'). An idea celebrated in the so-called 'medieval' Bengali texts. Grihalakshmi signified a conception of the nationalist-sublime which made the country ('not an object of the senses'. the Mangalkavyas (Mangal poems). the household.93 The reality of this past. at least for three centuries now. Grihalakshmi is the horizon where history 'unworks'. Durga and Kali... because of its mytho-religious poetics necessarily broke out of historical time. from the secrecy that interrupts the continuity of historical time. fragmentation. in the end. this imagination was at work in the nationalist aesthetics that marked the texts on domesticity that I have discussed here. 'encounters interruption. It is not a concept embedded in the secular time of the historicist imagination. I developed such a thirst
for prose and poetry that I began to neglect my duties towards samsar (the world. which survives the patriarchy of the Bengali modern that speaks through the rest of Dayamayi's book. for example. the word mangal is a matter of everyday performance. Dayamayi Dasi's own text provides us with a critical example of how even in these public narratives of domesticity and personhood. i. But. Her book. breaks completely out of its own framework at one point in the preface where she records the exhilarating sense of liberation that literacy brought to her: I had never entertained the thought that I would learn to recognise the
alphabet or to read books. there remained possibilities of other manoeuvres creating speaking positions that looked far beyond the patriarchy of the Bengali modern.e. reminds us of the other
. but also from interior intentions. Space will not allow me to develop the point but anybody with some intimate knowledge of Hindu-Bengali pleasures will know how intertwined the narratives of Bengali domesticity and familial emotions are. Only starting from this secrecy is the pluralism of society possible'. which is a paean to the patriarchy of the kula. But this sublime which.95 This statement.Domesticity BritishBengal in
of the kula depends. cliched no doubt but rooted deep in (chronologically pre-British) narratives/practices of kinship and family where Christian or historicist distinctions between the divine and the human do not apply. to speak with Levinas.
Eugene Irschick. to every perpetratorof Sharazad:'Don't epistemicviolence and in the voice of the woman-subject fuck me yet. as I have said. Thomas Metcalf.the very idea of politicalimaginaryof the European-derived the civil-political. narrative 'forone moreday of life'.U. Europeanimperialistswould not have been able either to legitimisetheir colonial dominationby using the idea of 'progress' or to sell this idea to the colonised.for instance. if their own representationsof 'progress'were explicitly riddledwith self-doubt.no doubt. is to learn from Sharazad'stechnique of survival. is itself not one. In addition. Partha Chatterjee. sponsoredby the SSRC. New York.both within and outside the university. I am gratefulto the for participants the criticisms they gave me. the 'epistemic drives violence'thathasbeen a necessarypartof nation-andempire-making of the last two and a half centuries.civic or familial) is not assimilableto the emancipatoryvisions that Eurocentric imaginations civil-political have bequeathedto us. in its uncompromising resistanceto duty (whethermodernor ancient. real and deeply rooted in institutional One practices. The certitudesthat constitute the colonial theatre have not vanishedwith the demise of formal imperialism. Colonising relationships.I shall alwaysmiss his criticisms. I think of it. Ranajit Guha. but especially to David Arnold.98 Historythereforecannotbe a 'talking cure' from 'modernity'.The 'true'bourgeoisdoes not exist except in representationsof power and domination.I am deeply indebtedto all my colleagues in SubalternStudies. Martin Jay. however.30
But strugglesthat modernityhelped unleash.The compulsion (and the temptation.96 it is also a statementthat.which dominateour lives. by a sheer act of will. Jeanette Hoorn and Patrick Wolfe to thankfor their helpfulcomments. Anthony Low.
An Acknowledgements: earlierversionof thispaperwasreadat a workshop in Brighton. far less an explanationfor a modernitythat.. or not suffer.I also recallwithsadnessthe manyhelpfuldiscussionsI had on this subjectwith my deardepartedfriendHitesranjan Sanyal.I have FionaNicoll.
. for I still have (an)otherstoryto tell'. Gyan Pandey and David Hardimanfor commentson this paper. is a mythin thatit naturalises history.the analyst is not the addressee of this story of colonial Bengal. as Heideggeronce said)to thinkandtranslatethe worldthroughthe categories is of the Europeanimperial-modern.K. as Barthes once said with reference to a of traded Shahrazad the ArabianNights.more as a merchandise. Hilary Standing.97 cannot simplyopt out of this problem." To attemptto writedifferenceinto the historyof our modernityin a mode that resiststhe assimilationof this historyto the institutions. It is to say. are not created throughthe complex attention to 'truth'that is often in evidence in academicdebates. The modern. Robin Jeffrey. of life This conclusion cannot offer a closure. ChristopherHealy.
A History of Private Life: Passionsof theRenaissance. 11 Rajkrishna Bandyopadhyay. 60.has a stimulating 17 Radhanath Basak. 65-71. see YogendranathGupta. 'MetamorSummer1990. 55. Thiswasone of the fromSamuelSmiles. Wilson. 12-13.1864. and Ritualin BengaliSociety.1906.[in Bengali].pp. 8 Ibid. Hindu Goddesses:Visionsof the Divine Femininein the Hindu Religious Tradition. 8. of discussion thisproblem.pp. Bengali].p. New Jersey. xxx. 25-26. Sikshapaddhati.Calcutta. 1.. 160. 9 Lucien Febvre.p.. Jamalpur (Burdwan). 1990. [in 24 Datta.Garhasthyadharma naridharmer parishista. Bange mahila kabi. of pp. 56-60. 43. GoddessLakshmi: Originand Development. [in 21 Datta. 136. 20 Atulchandra Datta. 46-47. Ma.1858.Domesticity in British Bengal NOTES
1 This is an idea forcefullyand illuminatingly arguedin MeaghanMorris.Calcutta.Prosperity Miseryin ModernBengal: The Famineof 1943and 1944.New Formations.trans.pp. 29 Dhal. 1984 and Ghulam Murshid. TarasankarSharma. pp. Delhi. 2. 65. 20.p. Delhi. See also Manomohan Bosu.. Calcutta. 'Civilisation: Evolution of a Word and a Group of Ideas' in Peter Burke (ed. 58-59.Preface and title-page.. Greenough. 6. 28 Upendranath Dhal. pp. SubalternStudies. 1982. 4 Philippe Aries. Dialectin Bengali(1928). The 'Prefaceto the FirstEdition'mentionsthat manyof the essaysin this book were writtenby Vidyasagar himself. 210-309.. 12 On the criticalrole that the idea of 'improvement' playedin BritishIndiain stitching and nationalistideologies. see Borthwick. 100. 194-197.p.[in Bengali]. 15 Anon. 141.p. Women's prevalencein women'sspeech (of the 1920s)of older wordsthat had gone out of use in male speechandwriting.220-221.Murshid. Hinduacharbyabahar[in Bengali]. 80. p. Calcutta.Marriage.1873. 15-16. 28-29.pp. Chicago. Streeganervidyasiksha Bengali]. 83-84. 'DominancewithoutHetogetherimperialist in gemony and Its Historiography' R.p. 1988. H. [in 16 Ashis Nandy. 1. to Rajshahi.Sarirtattvasar. 10 Ishvarchandra Vidyasagar. 3 The story is told in MeredithBorthwick. Nitibodh.1858(10threprint).p. 4. Grihasiksha. pp. 10. of book Nationalist 2 One of the best illustrations this argumentis ParthaChatterjee's A and Thought the ColonialWorld: Derivative Discourse?. 5 For examplesof the way (male) reviewerscontrolledand regulatedliteraryoutputof women. Bengali Women. 14-19. pp. 125-8. 9.Sarirsadhani vidyar gunokirtan. 219-57.Calcutta. 118-125.1983. vol. 'Introduction'in Roger Chartiered. 1989.p.Calcutta.ed. 7 JamesMill. xxix.vol. 1978.pp. 78. 1975. Grihasiksha. see RanajitGuha. ReluctantDebutante:Response of BengaliWomen Modernization.1877. For furtherdiscussion bearingon this point.1870.Dependenceand Autonomy:Women's Employment theFamilyin Calcutta.pp. 27 Paul R. 26 David Kinsley. 1870. pp. 1869?. Calcutta. Streesiksha.
. [in 18 Sasthyaraksha Bengali].1904. Bengali].1986. K. 33-34. 63-67. 19-32. Bengali]. The IntimateEnemy:Loss and Recoveryof Self UnderColonialRule. 139. Reluctant Debutante. Hilary Standing. Bodhoday. 12-41 andLinaFruzzetti. manybooksthatself-consciously borrowed 14 Nagendrabala ba Sarawati. 1989. 38.1851. 23 Chandranath Bosu. Delhi. 1973.Calcutta.1: p.pp. Berkeley. H. Changing Role. Folca. 13 SomnathMukhopadhyay.1858. The book bearsthe Englishtitle: On the Importance Physical of Education. 1953. Bengali]. Sen shows the 6 See Sukumar Sen.Calcutta. ManishaRoy.Calcutta. 29.pp. 22 Datta.p. Calcutta. pp. The ChangingRole of Womenin Bengal 1849-1905. 13.Delhi. Dhaka.1979. pp. [in 25 Whatfollowswill bearthis out. 3-4. p.pp. 5.Calcutta. Garhasthyapath. New York. 33.TheGiftof a Virgin: Women. phosesat SydneyTower'. TheHistoryof British India. 62.) A New Kind of History:From the Writings Febvre. 1987. 34-39.1887. [in 19 Rangalal Bandyopadhyay. and 1991. Guha ed.n.passim. Cambridge.
.'Nationalist Economicand PoliticalWeekly(hereafterEPW). pp. pp.32
History Workshop Journal
o bratakatha panchali [in Majhi. Serampore. pp. pp.Jasodhara in Nationalism: Ideologyof Motherhood ColonialBengal'. 29.EPW.
. 50 Mrityunjay Sharmanah [Vidyalankar]. 35. samajsangsthapanartha 1823. 36 Gupta.p. Calcutta.pp.1870. Bhattacharya. 21. Hinduachar. 1863. 48 Bipinchandra Sattar batshar. 66. Bangamahila Bengali]. prabandha[in Bengali]. pp. 1869..d. Calcutta. 21-22. 1869.21: 43. 90-91 and Sabyasachi for Destiny'(I am gratefulto ProfessorBhattacharya allowingme accessto this palkundala's manuscript). 1808.pp. 6. 12-14. 42 Ishanchandra Bosu. S. Calcutta. Grihastha-jiban. 41 Anon. Economicand Politi45 Srabashi Ghosh'sextensivelyresearched relevanceof ninethe cal Weekly. 39 Bosu. 87-88. 40 Anon.Ki holo!. 49 Gauradeshiya prathamsabharbibaran[in Bengali]. For a statementtypically Prehistoric Timesto the Present see M.Calcutta.pp.' A. CenturyBengaliLiterature'. 84-87. 47 See Amitrasudan [in Bhattacharya. teenth-century 46 Thus Altekar'snationaliststudyof Hinduwomen begins with a statementthat could the have come from Mill: 'One of the best ways to understand spiritof a civilisationand to is its appreciate excellencesand realiseits limitations to studythe historyof the positionand From status of women in it.p. pp. revised by Madhusudan Calcutta. 30-31. Pal. 44 Deenanath Bandyopadhyay.. panchalio bratakatha. 77. article'Birdsin a Cage'. Hooghly.Srimaharajkrishnachandra Bengali]. PasupatiChattopadhyay. Calcutta.1859. 1990. pp. the Mahabharata who bearschildrenandwho lives for and is devotedto her husband'.1955/56. Nanabishayak pp. 2011-2015. See also Shibchandra 43 ParthaChatterjee. 35 See. p. 21:17. [in 1881. 294-295 and the posthumously 1846.pp.p.. in additionto the referencesalreadycited.. idem. p. Naridharma Bengali].'Representing 20-27. 105. Grihastha32 Anon.'Kadambiniand the Bhadralok:Early Debates over Women'sEducationin Bengal'.'TheNationalistResolutionof the Women'sQuestion'in Kumkum Women:Essaysin IndianHistory.J. WS65-WS71. 4.Bankimchandrajibani Bengali]. BaromaserSrisrilakshmidevir 30 See Baikunthanath Calcutta.Calcutta. 78-79. 14. 57. Kayekkhani jiban [in Bengali]. Altekar. [in Devi.1956. 19-20. Kaleeprasanna prastab[in Bengali]. 21 Nov. 1990.p. Calcutta. Calcutta. Streediger (in Jana.1865. 8-11. 16-17. Gupta. Hitabodh.Calcutta.Calcutta.Chinsurah. 6-7. Bagchi. prati upadesh[in Bengali].. Gopinath Dasgupta.p. 1874. n. 'Bankimchandra the Subjection Women:Kaand of Bhattacharya. 44 45. 26 April 1986.p.Changing 38 Bikshuk. 233-253. pp.Calcutta. 53 Bibaran.p. 52 Bibaran. 1987.New Brunswick.Womenof Bengal:A Studyof the Hindu Pardanashins Calcutta. Neetigarbha Bengali]. p. Ray. Sangariand SudeshVaid eds. pp. Ramsundar harmabidhyak Bengali]. Patibratyadharmasiksha Bengali]. Role. 25-26. Streed(in pp.n. 6-9. demonstrates continuing questions. Streesiksha.pp. 1862. 33. 1shouldexplainthat myglosson the extremelypolysemicwordjati is roughand approximate. srisrilakshidevir Baromese Sen]. [in Ray.1877. publishedPrabodhchandrika[in Bengali].pp. Kailashchandra Ghosh. pp. MalabikaKarlekar. 88-96. 33 Yogendranath heenabastha Bengali]. rayashya charitram [in 51 Rajivlochan Mukhopadhyay.pp.TanikaSarkar. 43-44. 60. pp. Nareejatibishayak [in Bengali]. 9-10. 63. 27-28. 1. 1991.p. Reetimool Tarkaratna. p. 31 Bhikshuk[Chandra patra [in Bengali].Calcutta. The Positionof Womenin Hindu Civilisation: seeingthe Day. 43-47.1876. EPW. October1986. Calcutta.pp. Recasting Imagesof Womenin 19th Iconography: N. 7-8. Bengali]. Oct. Calcutta. of quhart. inimicalto the growthof individuality.1926. 96-97.1887. [in Bengali]. 37 Quoted in Borthwick.1882. Hindu mahilaganer 34 Kailashbashini pp.d. 83-96. Banaras. Margaret Urextendedfamilyas an institution Calcutta. Serampore.1811. 27 puts this gloss on a sloka from [in which says: '[Only]she is [the true] wife who is skilled in domesticwork. WS25-WS31.Rajabali [in Bengali]. Ki holo!.
1848. 40-68. 81 Jean-Franqois Lyotard. [in Gupta. Brajendranath 72 Rajnarayan janikantaDas.. Calcutta. 55-56. 1-2. p.
62 KK.p. Grihasta-jiban. 83 BharatiRay.
78 Sumit Sarkar. 80 See Jean-Jacques Rousseau.Heideggerand "thejews". 52. Bengali].pp. p.1920.1887. 46-59. Economicand PoliticalWeekly. Bidhababibahanishedhak [in Bengali].1870. 37. 66 Cited in Shyamapada Nyayabhusan. 43. 74 Ibid.
61 Tattvabodhinipatrika (n.Emile. 54 See the editor'sintroduction Bhabanicharan Calcutta. Revaluing French Feminism. 51870 Mudhusudan
519. 22.BarbaraFoxley. 22. p. and 68 See my 'Postcoloniality the Artificeof History:Who Speaksfor "Indian"
Representations. N. 6. 60-61. 86-87..
Das 69 Krishnabhabini quotedin Murshid.Calcutta. understand ParthaChatterjeehas suggestedto me that the wordcould be a transliteration of the word 'sheriff'. Se kal ar e kal. Pastand Present.86. CenturyBengal'in RanajitGuhaed. N. 'The life of someonewho has neverset foot on is Everygrihimustbudgetfor tirthayatra': a place of pilgrimage devoidof muchsignificance.1976/7. 'Rousseau'sPhallocraticEnds' in Nancy Fraserand
Sandra Lee Bartky eds.
1991.. pp. pp.pp. 85 Saraswati quoted in Borthwick. Delhi. Pandeyeds. and S. 1977. NarirUkti[in Bengali].Book V and the discussionin Sarah Kofman. Patibrata dharma[in Bengali].Changing Sen Role. trans. 10-13.vol. pp.pp. 87 Yogendranath 1881. racanabali[in Bengali]. pp.. 148. Darshandeepika. pp. 1992.
86 See my Rethinking Working-Class History: Bengal 1890-1940. pp. 8-10.1952.vol. KshetraGupta.Calcutta.1990. 2. Bandyopadhyay.p. Thereis one word. and "Chakri". 'Bengali Women and Politics of Joint family'. 77 Ibid. 59 Ibid. 11-14. 309. 1877. p. Agency
and Culture. 1-2.
12-13.p.1957. Elitesin SouthAsia. Achar prabandha [in Bengali]. 39-40.. Ramtanu lahiri o tatkalin banga-
samaj[in Bengali]. pp.Domesticity in British Bengal
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Chapter4.d. pp. 28:32..p..
A of 71 SumitSarkar. Bangamahila Bengali].
63 Ibid.pp.) quoted in Sibnath Sastri. [in Ray. editor's introduction. N.
58 Ibid. trans. ed.Calcutta.
84 DayamayiDasi.. 1989. 14-18. Bloomington. Ambikacharan Pasts?'. KK. Brajendranath 55 Ibid. 7. 1-53. pp. (1823)..dedication.
of 75 See JohnRosselli.pp.. Caste and Politicsin Calcutta.. 5-6.Chinsurah. Patibrata dharma[in Bengali].
57 KK. and "Bhakti":Ramakrishna His Times'. pp. Cambridge. 17. 65 Kashinath Bosu comp.pp. 28 Dec.p. 13. 12. 3051-3021.. 35. 'TheSelf-Image Effeteness:PhysicalEducationand Nationalism in Nineteenth-Century Bengal'. Princeton.. 27. 6.J. pp... Mukherjeeeds. no. 8-9.pp.pp.'Class. 56 S. 82 DayamayiDasi. Mukherjee. 1980. EPW."'Kaliyuga".. 87-88. Calcutta.Calcutta.. Critical Essays on Difference. Calcutta.pp. 1965. New York.sarip[?]. Chinsurah. [in Bengali].vol. 67 An 1849 biography of Bhabanicharan gave detailed descriptions of his pilgrimage trips. pp. Subaltern terjee and Gyanendra 79 Ibid. 1908.
73 Ibid.'The Kalki-Avatar Bikrampur: Villagescandalin EarlyTwentieth Studies. 1549-1550. Feb. Calcutta. See also IndiraDevi. 29. 33-78. 1992. ed. 60 Ibid. 18 July 1992and ParthaChatterjee. Subaltern and Bandyopadhyay SaBose. Tirthayatra or pilgrimage was later incorporated as a
subjectin Bengalibooks on domesticscience.1992.
64 Ibid. Andreas Michel and Mark Roberts. 121-148.eds.1815-38'in EdmundLeach 1970.'A ReMiddleClass'in ParthaChatand Sri ligionof UrbanDomesticity: Ramakrishna the Calcutta Studies.
. . 8. 58. 1989.thatI have left out of this list as I couldnot it. 76 Bhudev Mukhopadhyay. p.
trans. [in 1880. preface.New York.TheGrainof theVoice:Interviews 1962-1980.trans. 79. TheInoperative see Community. Ethics and Infinity: Conversations RichardA. 31. 99 RolandBarthes. Cohen.
.pp. TheCritique Judgement. 17.Patripariksha Bengali]. The problemreceivesattentionin my 'Postcoloniality the Artificeof History' and and'Laborhistoryandthe Politicsof Theory:An IndianAngleon the MiddleEast'in Zachary Lockman ed.trans. Struggles Histories theMiddleEast..p.J..34
History Workshop Journal
88 Radhikanath Thakur. gratefulto VivekDhareswar drawing attentionto thisdiscussion.. Krishna 92 Immanuel Kant.p. 91 Tagore's short story 'The Notebook' gives an interestingillustrationof how these workin Bengalilives:Rabindranath ShortStories. I am ed.andtrans.p.comp. Peter Connoret al.trans. pp. 97. Patibrata. trans.1973. Hinduachar. in and 97 See MartinHeidegger. Peter D.pp. Hertz.Oxford. 89 Bosu. C. Jean-LucNancy.LindaCoverdale.. 95 Dasi. 93 For a discussionof this conceptof 'unworking'. 1985. 1985.On the Wayto Language. 89. p. Minneapolis. Peter Connor. New York. 90 Ibid. 58-60. New York. 1982. Workers. for my with Philippe Nemo.Pittsburgh. and in 98 1 haveborrowed idea of 'epistemic the violence'fromthe workof GayatriSpivak. 15-16..p. forthcoming.1991.Murshidabad. 1991. 15. Meredith. of trans. 43-50. 96 See the discussion my 'Postcoloniality the Artificeof History'.Selected Dutta andMaryLago. mythicalnarratives Tagore. 94 Emanuel Levinas. p.