Antoinette Burton

in Dwelling in the Archive

Published in print April 2003 | ISBN: 9780195144253
Published online January 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780199871919 | DOI:

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This chapter discusses that Cornelia Sorabji was at the center of debates about the role that the zenana, and by extension the precints of house and home, should play in shaping modern Indian culture. It adds that Sorabji, a Parsi Christian who was trained as a barrister at Oxford in 1889-1892, aimed to improve the conditions for purdahnashin and publicizing those conditions to reform-minded audiences in Britain and India. It narrates that she used her legal skills and her official connections to investigate the homes and detail the lives of hundreds of “secluded” women in the first three decades of the 20th century. It tells of Sorabji's biography as well as her family's history. It suggests that Sorabji's determination to preserve her Purdahnashin in the domain of memory signals the uneven and unlooked-for terrains of colonial modernity itself.

Keywords: Cornelia Sorabji; zenana; purdahnashin; modern women; old-fashioned women; twentieth century; colonial modernity; Britain

Chapter.  15615 words. 

Subjects: Asian History

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