chapter  34
12 Pages

Gender, Race and the Spatiality of the Colonial Town in India

WithMary Hancock

Britain's colonization of South Asia began in the early seventeenth century with a handful of East India Company-controlled coastal trading posts, but by the end of the eighteenth century, Company had extended its territorial control deep into the subcontinent's interior through annexure, alliances, seizure and purchase. In India, as in other colonies, domination by a foreign minority rested on force and on the intricate bureaucratic machinery of surveillance; colonial cities, however, were made up of social spaces in which domination was enacted also in quotidian and informal ways. This chapter draws on previous work on the domesticating projects of empire in its analysis of colonial town formation, using as case studies two colonial towns, Chennai and Udagamandalam. It considers how colonialism's civilising mission unfolded through making and crossing gendered and racialized boundaries in three key arenas: homes, clubs and mission stations. Clubs' exclusivity thus extended and replicated metropolitan notions of distinction and status, entwining these with both gender and race.