Reproductive Politics and the Making of Modern India
- PUBLISHED: June 2021
- SUBJECT LISTING: Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Asian Studies / South Asia, History
- BIBLIOGRAPHIC INFORMATION: 284 Pages, 6 x 9 in, 9 b&w illus.
- ISBN: 9780295748849
- Publisher: University of Washington Press
Beginning in the late nineteenth century, India played a pivotal role in global conversations about population and reproduction. In Reproductive Politics and the Making of Modern India, Mytheli Sreenivas demonstrates how colonial administrators, postcolonial development experts, nationalists, eugenicists, feminists, and family planners all aimed to reform reproduction to transform both individual bodies and the body politic. Across the political spectrum, people insisted that regulating reproduction was necessary and that limiting the population was essential to economic development. This book investigates the often devastating implications of this logic, which demonized some women’s reproduction as the cause of national and planetary catastrophe.
To tell this story, Sreenivas explores debates about marriage, family, and contraception. She also demonstrates how concerns about reproduction surfaced within a range of political questions—about poverty and crises of subsistence, migration and claims of national sovereignty, normative heterosexuality and drives for economic development. Locating India at the center of transnational historical change, this book suggests that Indian developments produced the very grounds over which reproduction was called into question in the modern world.
The open-access edition of Reproductive Politics and the Making of Modern India is freely available thanks to the TOME initiative and the generous support of The Ohio State University Libraries.
Authors & Contributors
Mytheli Sreenivas is associate professor of history and women’s, gender, and sexuality studies at the Ohio State University and author of Wives, Widows, and Concubines: The Conjugal Family Ideal in Colonial India.
Sreenivas demonstrates how colonial administrators, postcolonial development experts, nationalists, eugenicists, feminists, and family planners all aimed to reform reproduction to transform both individual bodies and the body politic.- New Books Network
[T]his book is of vital importance to scholars of postcolonial states, modernisation, and population control.- Economic and Political Weekly
[O]ffers a compelling view of colonial and postcolonial India, seen through the lens of the politics of reproduction.- Population and Development Review
The thorough examination of a broad range of archival records backed by extensive engagement with critical theoretical frameworks makes the book a significant contribution to the scholarship on modern South Asia.- Asian Affairs
Temporally, the book is a work situated in modern history, but its investigation of the concepts of "population" and "economy" make it a sharp commentary on the centrality of reproduction in global biopolitics today...What stands out in Sreenivas’s work is the animation with which the key actors of the period under study are brought to life.- H-Net Reviews
Sreenivas’s book is an important contribution to a growing body of scholarly work that thinks seriously with the transnational politics of gender and sexuality to reimagine this critical period of late colonial and postcolonial development.- The Indian Economic and Social History Review
Sreenivas’ meticulous research at the intersections of demographic history, gender/sexuality/sexology, and contraceptive politics offers a complex history of population, nation, and economy in India. It makes a timely contribution to nineteenth and twentieth-century South Asian history, reproductive and contraceptive histories of India, and colonial and postcolonial gender and sexuality studies.- South Asian Review
As the world confronts climate catastrophe, and engages with questions of population, reproduction, and economy, Mytheli Sreenivas’ Reproductive Politics and the Making of Modern India is an important and timely intervention. It sits alongside other important feminist interventions on population and development.- Pacific Affairs
The book is highly relevant to scholars; researchers in sociology, population sciences, demographic, and development studies and other social sciences; and feminist activists. It offers a compelling view of colonial and postcolonial India, seen through the lens of the politics of reproduction and the need for population control and planned parenthood for the development of human beings.- Women's Reproductive Health
The connections that this book makes are impressive, as is its ability to engage with a scholarship on reproduction and population not only from India, but most broadly, with global histories and historiographies.- Sanjam Ahluwalia, author of Reproductive Restraints: Birth Control in India, 1877–1947
An enormously thorough, compelling, and sobering account of how feminist impulses came to be intertwined with state-led economistic thinking and coercive eugenic measures.- Ashwini Tambe, author of Defining Girlhood in India: A Transnational History of Sexual Maturity Laws