The nineteenth century and early twentieth century was a period of rapid change for domestic and colonial politics in Britain, and this was particularly evident in discourses surrounding gendered subjectivity. Despite separate spheres ideologies that made clear distinctions between public (male) spaces and private (female) spaces, in literatures written by women, discourses of home and empire often collide. This paper discusses representations of the zenana, the living quarters relegated to women and girls in elite Hindu and Muslim homes in the Indian subcontinent, through the texts of Fanny Parkes, Emily Eden, and Helen Bourchier, whose narratives offer insight into the ways the textual production of the figure of the zenana woman in empire becomes a necessary means to critique gendered politics at home. By framing these narratives within contemporary social movements and political events, a study of these texts demonstrates how discourses surrounding British domesticity and the zenana become integral to gendered subject formation as well as discourses of empire-making.
|Keywords:||Zenana Narratives, Britain and India, Colonialism, Race and Ethnicity|
Ph.D. Candidate, Department of English, University of California, Riverside, California, USA
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