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
'...an exceptionally interesting piece of work...an 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.
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