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
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.
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.
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