Monday, August 17, 2020

Pande on child marriage in colonial India

         Ishita Pande (Queen's University, Ontario) has published Sex, Law, and the Politics of Age: Child Marriage in India, 1891-1937 with Cambridge University Press. From the publisher: 

     Ishita Pande's innovative study provides a dual biography of India's path-breaking Child Marriage Restraint Act (1929) and of 'age' itself as a key category of identity for upholding the rule of law, and for governing intimate life in late colonial India. Through a reading of legislative assembly debates, legal cases, government reports, propaganda literature, Hindi novels and sexological tracts, Pande tells a wide-ranging story about the importance of debates over child protection to India's coming of age. By tracing the history of age in colonial India she illuminates the role of law in sculpting modern subjects, demonstrating how seemingly natural age-based exclusions and understandings of legal minority became the alibi for other political exclusions and the minoritization of entire communities in colonial India. In doing so, Pande highlights how childhood as a political category was fundamental not just to ideas of sexual norms and domestic life, but also to the conceptualisation of citizenship and India as a nation in this formative period. 
Praise for the book:  
"In this theoretically rigorous feminist history, Ishita Pande shows us how and why imperial 'age of consent' controversies should more aptly be read as regimes of reproductive temporality that shape minority and majority political claims in South Asian modernity in all its worldly ambition. Sex, Law and the Politics of Age opens up the terrain of 'juridical childhood' to a whole new set of questions and methods, rethinking girlhood as a prism of colonial and postcolonial ambition and a secularizing epistemic lever in the process." -Antoinette Burton
"A fascinating read, this book adeptly and sensitively renders the child as a moral-political category, and a socio-cultural construct, of modernity in colonial India. Through a close reading of the Child Marriage Restraint Act of 1929, Pande brilliantly intertwines debates on sexuality, childhood and age with the carving of a Hindu reformist nation." -Charu Gupta
"Here, finally, is a superbly researched and expansive South Asian/Indian history of the categories of age and consent, and their translations and tribulations within legal and social structures of surveillance and control. An indispensable book for scholars of law, gender and sexuality." -Anjali Arondekar
"Pande brilliantly deploys the generative power of gender analysis and queer theory to reinterpret one of the most widely-debated topics in colonial South Asian historiography: the question of ‘child marriage’. This rigorous and beautifully written book will be required reading for all historians and scholars of gender and sexuality in the twentieth century." -Todd Shepard 
You can join the author for an online book event, "Sex, Law, and the Politics of Age with Ishita Pande" on Monday, August 24, 2020 at 12.30-1.30pm CDT. Register here.
Further information about the book is available here.  
--Mitra Sharafi