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Learning femininity in colonial India, 1820–1932

by Tim Allender Manchester University Press
Pub Date:
Pbk 352 pages
AU$67.00 NZ$68.70
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Learning femininity in colonial India explores the colonial mentalities that shaped and were shaped by women living in colonial India between 1820 and 1932. Using a broad framework the book examines the many life experiences of these women and how their position changed, both personally and professionally, over this long period of study. Drawing on a rich documentary record from archives in the United Kingdom, India, Pakistan, North America, Ireland and Australia this book builds a clear picture of the colonial-configured changes that influenced women interacting with the colonial state.   


This book will appeal to students and academics working on the history of empire and imperialism, gender studies, postcolonial studies and the history of education.

1. Finding feminine scholars, 1820-64
2. Shaping a new Eurasian moral body, 1840-67
3. Mary Carpenter and feminine 'rescue' from Europe, 1866-77
4. Both sides of the mission wall, 1875-84
5. Female medical care: the creation of a new professional learning space, 1865-90
6. Feminine missionary medical professionalism and secular medical feminists, 1880-1927
7. Code School accomplishments and Froebel: new boundaries concerning race and pedagogy, 1883-1903
8. 'Better mothers': feminine and feminist educators and thresholds of female interaction, 1870-1932
9. Loreto and the paradigm of piety, 1890-1932

'Allender's attention to the interactions between the colonial state and British women who saw themselves as good citizens of the empire working on behalf of Indian women is a noteworthy contribution to our understanding of this period..Learning Femininity is a must-read for historians of empire and imperialism, Indian history, women's/gender history, gender studies, and the history of education.'
Geraldine Forbes, State University of New York, Oswego, H-Asia, June 2017

'this book will long remain exemplary... an exceptional mastery of secondary literature, an indispensable reading of the role of women, their networks and their educational projects in India under British rule.' [trans.]
Professor Rebecca Rogers, Université Paris Descartes, Paris, in Clio a lu, Clio, Femmes, Genre Histoire, no. 45 (June, 2017)

'This is an impressively detailed and rich study of the history of the education of girls and women in colonial India, based on extensive archival research in a range of localities.I have no hesitation in heartily recommending this rich and well-researched book to all those interested in the history of education in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, particularly the history of colonial education.'
Clare Midgley, Sheffield Hallam University, History of Education, February 2017

'In a meticulous study of female education in British India, Tim Allender illuminates the mutual constitution of race and gender over one hundred years of British colonial rule.'
Shefali Chandra, Washington University in St Louis, USA, Women's History Review, November 2016

'Allender's work is a compelling account of evolution, growth and development of female education in colonial India which originated within the framework of the state but went on to develop apparatus operating independent of the state that survived and outlived the colonial machinery.'
Subhasri Ghosh, Asutosh College, University of Calcutta, Kolkata, India, History of Education Review
Tim Allender is Associate Professor at the University of Sydney.