Indian sex life

Indien / Sozialwissenschaften / Geschichte 20. Jh / Frau / Inderin / Sexualität / Sexualverhalten / Soziale Norm / Religion / Postkolonialismus

During the colonial period, Indian intellectuals – philologists, lawyers, scientists and literary figures – all sought to hold a mirror to their country. Whether they wrote novels, polemics, or scientific treatises, all sought a better understanding of society in general and their society in particular. Curiously, female sexuality and sexual behavior play an outside role in their writing. The figure of the prostitute is ubiquitous in everything from medical texts and treatises on racial evolution to anti-Muslim polemic and studies of ancient India. In this book, Durba Mitra argues that between the 1840s and the 1940s, the new science of sexuality became foundational to the scientific study of Indian social progress. The colonial state and an emerging set of Bengali male intellectuals extended the regulation of sexuality to far-reaching projects that sought to define what society should look like and how modern citizens should behave. An exploration of this history of social scientific thought offers new perspectives to understand the power of paternalistic and deeply violent claims about sexual norms in the postcolonial world today. These histories reveal the enduring authority of scientific claims to a tradition that equates social good with the control of women’s free will and desire. Thus, they managed to dramatically reorganize their society around upper-caste Hindu ideals of strict monogamy.