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Title: Reconstructing the history of women's participation in the nationalist movement in India, 1905-1945
Author: Thapar-Björkert, Suruchi
ISNI:       0000 0001 3516 6594
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 1997
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The nationalist struggle in India against British colonial rule brought about the political mobilisation of both men and women. The nationalist leaders required the participation of women in the nationalist movement because the movement's importance and success was dependent on women's contribution to and involvement in it. While the existing research has contributed to my understanding of women's interaction with political life in India, this study attempts to reconstruct the dominant interpretations on women's political involvement. In doing so, it deconstructs concepts such as 'active', 'private', 'public' and 'political'. The argument in this thesis is shaped through three inter-related themes. First, it problematises women's emergence into the public sphere from a purdah-bound domestic existence. Secondly, it locates the domestic as an equally important site of nationalist activities as the public sphere. Thirdly, in the light of the above themes, it is suggested that dichotomous concepts such as public/private do not help to explain the interaction between these spheres, which facilitated the complex process of women's emergence in the public sphere. Moreover, the associated concepts of political/apolitical do not take into account women's political contributions from within the domestic sphere. Within the domestic sphere, women's nationalist identities were continuously re-negotiated to accommodate values of ancient Indian culture and the new Western influences. These identities shifted from an educated domestic woman to a nonviolent and non-antagonistic public woman to a public woman aware of challenging Western ideas, yet primarily confined to the domestic sphere. The nationalist movement also served as an important vehicle for encouraging middle-class women to engage in activities and to adopt new role models. The representations of women constructed by the nationalist project enabled women to play a political role through the avenues they opened, in both the public and domestic domains. However, women's political past and their varied contribution to the struggle was not effective in undermining gender inequalities or improving their status in society. The ideas in this historical study are shaped primarily through oral narratives and Hindi vernacular literature. The interviews with Indian activists, as a non-Western researcher, made me aware of the negotiable category 'Other'. Official and unofficial sources provided an initial framework for the study of this historical period.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: British Council ; Northbrook Society ; International Federation of University Women ; University of Warwick ; Sir Ernest Cassel Educational Trust
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: DS Asia