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Gendered Politics and Nationalised Homes: women and the anti-colonial struggle in Delhi, 1930-47

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The aim of this article is to highlight the ways in which women achieved agency in a nationalist movement that, while encouraging female participation, attempted to spatially delimit this activity to the home. While nationalist historiographies have acknowledged those women who left the home and joined nationalist protests in public, there were many more women supporting those processions and meetings in private. While the home cannot be considered outside of the community, local or national scale activities that framed it, an examination of the varieties of political participation within the home should help revise Partha Chatterjee's suggestion that the Indian middle-class home was a site of silencing and resubjection. Combining interview material with archival evidence, this research investigates the ways in which women in Delhi between 1930 and 1947 responded to Gandhi's call to be politically active from the home. Using the work of bell hooks on 'homeplaces', the home is portrayed as a potentially political space of anti-colonial resistance, rather than an apolitical site of withdrawal, oppression or safety.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Homerton College, University of Cambridge, UK

Publication date: March 1, 2003

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