Vol. 4, Issue 6 (2019)
The domesticated public sphere: Women’s work and service in late colonial India
Author(s): Ishita Singh
Abstract: In the first half of this paper, I explore the construction of ‘public domesticity’ in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century to argue that with the centrality placed on the spatial geography of the home in the nineteenth century, domestic work undertaken by women began to gain prominence under civilisational pressures of colonial modernity. In the second half of the paper, I discuss how the domestication of the public sphere, another practice of colonial governmentality, became essential for the entry of upper caste and upper class educated women into the public sphere. This paper will thus raise questions of feminine modesty vis-a-vis bourgeois domesticity and moral economy and how this domesticity of public sphere led to the granting of agency to the respectable middle class woman but shifted the relationship lower class and lower caste women had with the public sphere in late colonial India.