Sexuality, Obscenity, Community (Women, Muslims, and the Hindu Public in Colonial India)

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Item Code: IDG481
Author: Charu Gupta
Publisher: Permanent Black
Edition: 2018
ISBN: 8178241188
Pages: 405 (B & W Illus: 10)
Cover: Paperback
Other Details 8.5" X 5.5"
Weight 390 gm
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Book Description
About the Book:

The cultural imagination of Hindu India is the subject of this book. Anyone interested in the prehistory of present-day tensions between Hindus and Muslims will find it valuable.

Charu Gupta shows how gendered notions about women's sexuality and Muslim debauchery were used to pull together a heterogeneous populace into a coherent Hindu community in colonial north India. She traces the deliberations of (largely male) publicists on how to make Hindu women 'pure', on how to distance Hindus from Muslims, and on what constitutes Hindu sacredness and purity.

She reveals the redefinitions of literature, entertainment, and the domestic arena that forged a 'respectable' and singular idea of Hindu-ness. Semi-pornographic works and popular culture are examined to reveal the complex and contested terrain of Hindu literature and Hindu identity.

Based on a vast number of pamphlets, tracts, newspapers and magazines, and backed by archival data, this book also examines heightened Hindu mobilizations within everyday sites and relationships. It describes attempts to prevent interaction between Hindu women and Muslim men. It shows how polarisations were sharpened between Hindus and Muslims, thereby camouflaging the reality of caste hierarchies. Hindu anxieties about their demographic decline are discussed alongside shifting debates on widow remarriage and stereotypical ideas about Muslims.

About the Author:

CHARU GUPTA teaches History at Delhi University and is internationally recognized for her scholarship on women's issues, Hindi literature, and north Indian communalism.

Excerpts from Review:

'...this is a solid, important work on Hindu identity and gender issues in north India.'- VASUDHA DALMIA

' exceptionally interesting piece of excellent example of its genre.'-CHRIS BAYLY

'...shows most successfully how gender was central to the establishment of Hindu identity...this is an outstanding piece of research...'-FRANCES ROBINSON

Note on Translation, Transliteration, Orthography, and Referencing Methods:

Hindi words are neither translated nor italicised in the text; most are included in the glossary. Phrases and poems have been italicised and translated in the text. I have not used diacritical marks but have instead transliterated Hindi terms phonetically. The final 'a' has occasionally been dropped, except in words familiar within English usage or Indology, such as dharma, Vaishnava, Krishna, Kayastha, and yavana. Certain words included in unabridged English dictionaries, and the names of organisations, castes and deities, have not been italicised. Translated titles of various Hindi tracts have been given in the bibliography. They are not always exact translations: they state the subject of the tract.

Spellings, especially of place name, have been standardised; modern spellings have been used. Thus, Banaras for Benaras, Allahabad for Prayag, Kanpur for Cawnpore, and Mathura for Muttra, except when these appear within quotes or in the actual title of say, a newspaper, an article or an organisation. When citing the place of publication, modern spellings have mostly been used, though Kashi and Prayag have been retained. In relation to some tracts, the name of the publisher and the number of copies published have been given in footnotes, whenever this seemed relevant.

All Vikram Samvat dates have been converted to Roman dates by the standard method of deducting fifty-seven years. All references to archival unpublished documents state the file number first, followed by the year, then other details, and finally the department and location.


List of Illustrationsviii
Note on Translation, Transliteration Orthography,
and Referencing Methods
Women, Caste, Class and Hindu Communalism in UP13
2.Redefining Obscenity and Aesthetics in Print30
I. Colonial Perceptions of Obscenity34
II. 'Obscenities' in Hindi Literature39
II. 1. The Indigenous Elite and Literary Concerns39
II. 2. 'Dirty' Literature: Contesting the Logic of Morality?49
III. Brahmacharya, Kaliyug and the Advertisement of Aphrodisiacs 66
3.Sanitising Women's Social Spaces 85
I. Controls over Entertainment 85
II. The Dangers of Prostitutes: The Moral and Urban
Geographical Frameworks of Hindus
4.Mapping the Domestic Domain123
I. Unstable Sexualities: The Sexual Politics of the Home124
I.1. Conjugality and Desire: The Power of Difference125
I.2. Controversies Around Some Legislative Activities on Hindu Marriage128
I.3. Fashion, Clothes, Jewellery, Purdah 140
I.4. The Devar-Bhabhi Relationship 151
II. Education and the Fear of Reading: Stated Aims,
Unintended Consequences
III. Gender, Health and Medical Knowledge176
III.1. From Traditional Dais to Trained Midwives 177
III.2. Child-Care, Women's Health and Indigenous Practices185
III.3. Plague and Women's Honour190
5.The Icon of the Mother: Bharat Mata, Matri Bhasha and Gau Mata 196
I. Mapping the Mother/Nation: The Bharat Mata
Temple at Banaras
II. Language Debates203
II.1. Hindi as Mother205
II. 2. Lewd or Chaste, Feminine or Masculine?206
III. The Cow as Mother213
6.'Us' and 'Them': Anxious Hindu Masculinity and the 'Other'222
I. From Malabar to Malkanas: The Shuddhi and Sangathan Movements 223
II. Evoking Hindu Male Prowess, Community and Nation230
III. Hindu Woman as Sister-in-Arms235
IV. Conceiving the 'Other'239
IV.1. Approaching the Muslim Woman239
IV.2. Abduction Campaigns and the Lustful Muslim Male243
V. Innovate propaganda Manipulation 259
7.Hindu Women, Muslim Men277
I. Regulating Women by Fracturing Shared Spaces in Everyday Life268
I.1. Economic and Social Boycott273
I.2. Attacking the Cult of Ghazi Mian 281
II. Hindu Wombs, Muslim Progeny: Shifting Debates on Widow Remarriage298
II.1. The 'Problem' of Widows' Sexuality302
II.2. The Numbers Game307
8.Some Conclusions and Beyond321
Elopements and Conversions: The Recuperative
Possibilities of (Impossible Love)?
Appendix: Brief Background of Some Hindi Writers and Hindu Publicists 330
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