'That unit of civilisation' and 'the talent peculiar to women': British employers and their servants in the nineteenth-century Indian empire

Dussart, Fae Ceridwen (2015) 'That unit of civilisation' and 'the talent peculiar to women': British employers and their servants in the nineteenth-century Indian empire. Identities: Global Studies in Culture & Power, 22 (6). pp. 706-721. ISSN 1070-289X

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Abstract

Domestic servants across the British Empire were instrumental in constructing colonial domesticity. In metropole and colony, they marked the physical boundaries of the house and family and the categorical boundaries of class, gender and racial difference. However, in colonial India, the gender and racial status of Indian servants, relative to both their colonial employers and their metropolitan counterparts, disrupted the dynamics of dependence that structured metropolitan employer/servant relations and identities. Despite efforts to dutifully ‘civilise’ households according to a ‘British’ standard, the day-to-day reality was one in which ambivalence and uncertainty towards servants were commonplace among colonisers and where servants participated in the creation of a way of life that was specifically colonial, even while it sought to preserve and proselytise ‘Britishness’.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > Geography
Depositing User: Fae Dussart
Date Deposited: 18 Apr 2016 14:04
Last Modified: 18 Apr 2016 14:04
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/46824
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