Women and Social Reform in Modern India

Women and Social Reform in Modern India

A Reader
Edited by Sumit Sarkar and Tanika Sarkar
Distribution: Global except Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka
Publication date: 07/23/2008
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 978-0-253-22049-3
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Social reforms aimed at changing the social, political, or economic status of women in India were important both to British colonial rule and to nascent nationalist movements. Debates over practices such as widow immolation, widow remarriage, and child marriage, as well as those governing marriage and property within different religious communities, continued to exert profound influence on Indian society and politics throughout the 20th century. In this collection, eminent historians Sumit Sarkar and Tanika Sarkar bring together some of the most important scholarly articles and primary source documents from the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Author Bio

Sumit Sarkar is Retired Professor of History at the University of Delhi. His books include Beyond Nationalist Frames: Postmodernism, Hindu Fundamentalism, History (IUP, 2002) and Writing Social History.

Tanika Sarkar is Professor at the Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University. She is author of Hindu Wife, Hindu Nation: Community, Religion, and Cultural Nationalism (IUP, 2001) and co-editor of Women and Right-Wing Movements.


“In this impressive collection of writings on women's issues in Indian history, two eminent historians bring together some of the most important scholarly articles and primary source documents from the 19th and early 20th centuries.”

“Written in easily accessible language . . . [this book is an] invaluable research and teaching [text] that can be put to very good effect.”
 — Feminist Formations

“Essays by Lata Mani, Sumit Sarkar, Madhu Kishwar, Tanika Sarkar, and others, along with the original writings of Ram Mohan Roy, Tarabai Shinde, and others make this volume a rich one that students of cultural studies, women's studies, and history should possess.July, 2010”
 — H-Asia, H-Net Reviews

“[A]n outstanding volume of first-rate scholarship on women and social reform in colonial India.”
 — Journal of Contemporary Asia

“[This book] brings together a very fine selection of scholarship on an important topic. . . . many of the essays collected in this volume continue to have an immense impact on our understanding of gender, and the changes wrought in gender relations by both the state and indigenous actors and organizations, in colonial India.Vol. 10.2 Fall 2009”
 — Farina Mir, Journal of Col. & Colonial History e-jrnl

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Table of Contents



Whose Sati?: Widow Burning in Early-Nineteenth-Century India ANAND A. YANG

Production of an Official Discourse on Sati in Early-Nineteenth-Century Bengal LATA MANI

Education for Women GERALDINE FORBES

Law, Custom and Statutory Social Reform: The Hindu Widows' Remarriage Act of 1856 LUCY CARROLL

Caste, Widow-Remarriage, and the Reform of Popular Culture in Colonial Bengal SEKHAR BANDYOPADHYAY

Vidyasagar and Brahmanical Society SUMIT SARKAR

Customs in a Peasant Economy: Women in Colonial Haryana PREM CHOWDHRY


The Daughters of Aryavarta MADHU KISHWAR

Viresalingam and the Ideology of Social Change in Andhra JOHN AND KAREN LEONARD

Conjugality and Hindu Nationalism: Resisting Colonial Reason and the Death of a Child-Wife TANIKA SARKAR

Rebellious Wives and Dysfunctional Marriages: Indian Women's Discourses and Participation in the Debates over Restitution of Conjugal Rights and the Child Marriage Controversy in the 1880s and 1890s PADMA ANAGOL

Punjab and the North-West KENNETH JONES

Muslim Women and the Control of Property in North India GREGORY C. KOZLOWSKI

Prize-Winning Adab: A Study of Five Urdu Books Written in Response to the Allahabad Government Gazette Notification C.M. NAIM

Sayyid Mumtaz 'Ali and Tahzib un-Niswan: Women's Rights in Islam and Women's Journalism in Urdu GAIL MINAULT

Gender and the Politics of Space: The Movement for Women's Reform, 1857-1900 FAISAL FATEHALI DEVJI

Women's Question in the Dravidian Movement c. 1925-1948 S. ANANDHI

Multiple Meanings: Changing Conceptions of Matrilineal Kinship in Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Malabar G. ARUNIMA

Women and Gender in the Study of Tribes in India VIRGINIUS XAXA

The 'Second Women's War' and the Emergence of Democratic Government in Manipur SA