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Sex and the Family in Colonial India
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  • 8 b/w illus.
  • Page extent: 292 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.6 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 306.850954/09033
  • Dewey version: 22
  • LC Classification: HQ669 .G48 2006
  • LC Subject headings:
    • Interracial marriage--India--History--18th century
    • Interracial marriage--India--History--19th century
    • Concubinage--India--History--18th century
    • Concubinage--India--History--19th century
    • Families--India--History--18th century

Library of Congress Record


 (ISBN-13: 9780521857048 | ISBN-10: 052185704X)

In the early years of the British empire, cohabitation between Indian women and British men was commonplace and to some degree tolerated. However, as Durba Ghosh argues in a challenge to the existing historiography, anxieties about social status, appropriate sexuality, and the question of who could be counted as 'British' or 'Indian' were constant concerns of the colonial government even at this time. By following the stories of a number of mixed-race families, at all levels of the social scale, from high-ranking officials and noblewomen to rank-and-file soldiers and camp followers, and also the activities of indigenous female concubines, mistresses and wives, the author offers a fascinating account of how gender, class and race affected the cultural, social and even political mores of the period. The book makes an original and signal contribution to scholarship on colonialism, gender and sexuality.

• A major contribution to the study of empire and gender • Addresses a neglected period in Indian women's history • Will appeal to a wide range of scholars and students in Indian history, British colonialism, gender studies, sociology, and cultural studies


Acknowledgements; Introduction; 1. Colonial companions; 2. Residing with begums: William Palmer, James Achilles Kirkpatrick and their 'wives'; 3. Good patriarchs, uncommon families; 4. Native women, native lives; 5. Household order and colonial justice; 6. Servicing military families: family labour, pensions and orphans; Conclusion; Bibliography; Index.


'Ghosh's book will be immensely valuable to scholars of gender, race, and empire …' Journal of Asian Studies

'… Sex and the Family makes an important contribution to the investigation of racial and gender relations in eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century India by reminding us of the anxiety Englishmen felt and by recovering some of the Indian women's voices.' Eighteenth-Century Studies

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