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Dwelling in the ArchiveWomen Writing House, Home, and History in Late Colonial India$
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Antoinette Burton

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780195144253

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195144253.001.0001

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Colonial Modernity and the Zenana in Cornelia Sorabji’s Memoirs

(p.65) Chapter Three TOURISM IN THE ARCHIVES
Dwelling in the Archive

Antoinette Burton (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses that Cornelia Sorabji was at the center of debates about the role that the zenana, and by extension the precints of house and home, should play in shaping modern Indian culture. It adds that Sorabji, a Parsi Christian who was trained as a barrister at Oxford in 1889-1892, aimed to improve the conditions for purdahnashin and publicizing those conditions to reform-minded audiences in Britain and India. It narrates that she used her legal skills and her official connections to investigate the homes and detail the lives of hundreds of “secluded” women in the first three decades of the 20th century. It tells of Sorabji's biography as well as her family's history. It suggests that Sorabji's determination to preserve her Purdahnashin in the domain of memory signals the uneven and unlooked-for terrains of colonial modernity itself.

Keywords:   Cornelia Sorabji, zenana, purdahnashin, modern women, old-fashioned women, twentieth century, colonial modernity, Britain

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