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Gender, Slavery and Law in Colonial India Paperback – February 6, 2002

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 300 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (February 6, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195659066
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195659061
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,153,084 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Chatterjee's study...offers new understanding of the place of the eunuch and the harem in the milieu of governance....[She] presents complex themes clearly and articulately. Her research in company and Indian records is deep and broad....her work is erudite and her arguments highly plausible."--History

About the Author

Indrani Chatterjee is at Institute of Asian Studies, Calacutta.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Michael J. Sopher on February 9, 2004
Format: Paperback
To say slavery was an economic tool and that slaves worked to produce profits for their landowners is misleading in the author's mind. Slavery, Chatterjee argues, must be understood as a domestic institution. Further domestic slavery and the slaves who were part of it must be seen as having multiple connections to indigenous caste and community groupings. Slaves were not exclusively members of the lowest society of the Indian caste system, and the concept of "slavery" should not be limited to those belonging to such groups.
The book's main chapters focus on the explication of domestic slavery within the Murshidabad court and on that court's relations with the East India Company and colonial officials. After an initial historiographical discussion of slavery, Chatterjee moves on in her second chapter to a description of the slave system that operated within the Murshidabad court and the relationship of that system to ties of kinship and nonkinship. Her third chapter describes the efforts of East India Company and colonial officials to manipulate and reinterpret indigenous slave institutions in ways thought appropriate to British (and sometimes Islamic) laws regarding marriage and kinship. Chapter four studies the economic relationships and exchanges within the Nizamat, the role played by slaves in this process, and the interventions of company and colonial officials in these exchanges. Chapter five examines laws relating to slavery in this period, both company and Islamic, and the various legal contortions through which colonial officials managed their coexistence with a slavery that was said not to exist.
In the conclusion, Chatterjee places her subject in its modern context. We must understand personal law in modern India as the product of colonial intervention and construction.
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