Between Home and Exile:Locating Memsahibs’ Texts in British India

Pujari , Jyoti Prakash (2019) Between Home and Exile:Locating Memsahibs’ Texts in British India. PhD thesis.

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During the second half of the eighteenth century the British East India Company popularised the image of India as a hub for rich and eligible bachelors and did consequential work to woo Englishwomen to the Colony. By the nineteenth century ship loads of Englishwomen who went by the cult name of ‘Fishing Fleets’ braved perilous lands and seas and started coming to India to find a ‘suitable’ husband and thereby a ‘better life’ for themselves. The White women who came to India—popularly termed as ‘memsahibs’—gradually settled all over the country and started to create a ‘home’ away from home. It was during this period of time that they started developing their own corpus of texts. This thesis reads memsahibs’ texts—primarily manuals, travelogues and popular fiction—which were published in the nineteenth century India and suggests that home and exile are recurrent themes in these texts.

This thesis argues that though the Englishwomen were primarily ‘transported’ to create and manage British households in the Colony and acted as civilizing agents of the Englishmen, the memsahibs used imperialism as a means to design their own legitimate role in developing their own literature, separate from the ‘mainstream’ English literature in India. They negotiated the societal boundaries set for them and challenged the contemporary Victorian attitude towards class and race. In short, divided into six chapters, this thesis maps home and exile, the recurrent themes, in memsahibs’ texts and explores how—negotiating race and gender—memsahibs’ narratives address the question of women emancipation.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Home; Exile; Gender; Nation; Colonial India; Women’s Writing
Subjects:Humanities & Social Sciences > Environmental Sociology
Humanities & Social Sciences > Rural Sociology
Humanities & Social Sciences > Literary and Cultural studies
Divisions: Social Sciences > Department of Humanities & Social Sciences
ID Code:10048
Deposited By:IR Staff BPCL
Deposited On:29 Aug 2019 14:14
Last Modified:29 Aug 2019 14:14
Supervisor(s):Rath, Akshaya K.

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