ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The Archaeology of ‘Age’ in Colonial India

Sex, Law, and the Politics of Age: Child Marriage in India, 1891–1937 by Ishita Pande, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020; pp xvi + 322, price not indicated.

To excavate the various contours of the entangled nature of gender, sexuality, and the production of modern legal and political subjects in the diverse historical contexts has been a productive concern within the modern historical studies in recent times. One can quickly point to Global Women, Col­onial Ports: Prostitution in the Interwar Middle East by Liat Kozma (2017), Sex, Law, and Sovereignty in French Algeria, 1830–1930 by Judith Surkis (2019), and Indian Sex Life: Sexuality and the Colonial Origins of Modern Social Thought by Durba Mitra (2020) as examples of this excellent scholarship. These inq­uiries engage with the nature of colonial power as well as how it was implicated in the production of female sexuality in different spatial-intellectual contexts.

Although Ishita Pande’s work Sex, Law and the Politics of Age: Child Marriage in India, 1891–1937 shares many of the concerns with these recent historical studies, her study locates the sex/age complex as the pivot around which the discourse of modern Indian liberal subject was constructed. Pande considers the child as a site of sexual modernisation in late colonial India and probes into the use of childhood as a moral category in politics. “In what ways did the discourses of child protection give shape to the norms and forms of modern/­colonial government, national sovereignty, community identity, and individual rights?” is the question she seeks to address through this work.

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Updated On : 22nd Aug, 2022
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