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Networks of Sociability: Women's Clubs in Colonial and Postcolonial India

Networks of Sociability: Women's Clubs in Colonial and Postcolonial India Networks of Sociability Women’s Clubs in Colonial and Postcolonial India benjamin b. cohen The club in colonial India has been the recipient of much scorn and little se- rious study. In literary circles, writers from Kipling to Orwell have portrayed clubs as bastions of white male privilege. In Burmese Days, Orwell pro- claimed that “In any town in India the European Club is the spiritual citadel, the real seat of the British power, the Nirvana for which native offi cials and millionaires pine in vain.” In this article, I want to challenge the image es- tablished by Orwell of the isolated and exclusive imperial club by examining a set of women’s clubs in colonial and postcolonial India. I argue that clubs— created together by Indian and British women—bridged practices of colonial exclusivity, explicitly forging bonds that spanned both race and the colonizer- colonized divide. Further, clubs served as homes away from home for Indian and British women alike. The club served as a homelike space where in each other’s company women could enjoy greater freedoms than might be found at home or in the heterosocial public sphere. Within these spaces, clubs served as training ground for participation in public http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies University of Nebraska Press

Networks of Sociability: Women's Clubs in Colonial and Postcolonial India

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Publisher
University of Nebraska Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2009 Frontiers Editorial Collective.
ISSN
1536-0334

Abstract

Networks of Sociability Women’s Clubs in Colonial and Postcolonial India benjamin b. cohen The club in colonial India has been the recipient of much scorn and little se- rious study. In literary circles, writers from Kipling to Orwell have portrayed clubs as bastions of white male privilege. In Burmese Days, Orwell pro- claimed that “In any town in India the European Club is the spiritual citadel, the real seat of the British power, the Nirvana for which native offi cials and millionaires pine in vain.” In this article, I want to challenge the image es- tablished by Orwell of the isolated and exclusive imperial club by examining a set of women’s clubs in colonial and postcolonial India. I argue that clubs— created together by Indian and British women—bridged practices of colonial exclusivity, explicitly forging bonds that spanned both race and the colonizer- colonized divide. Further, clubs served as homes away from home for Indian and British women alike. The club served as a homelike space where in each other’s company women could enjoy greater freedoms than might be found at home or in the heterosocial public sphere. Within these spaces, clubs served as training ground for participation in public

Journal

Frontiers: A Journal of Women StudiesUniversity of Nebraska Press

Published: Feb 4, 2010

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