Tamil Women Writing About Desire in the 1920s, Casteless Marriage and More With Dr. Mytheli Sreenivas

Dec 12, 2022


In this episode, historian and gender studies scholar Dr. Mytheli Sreenivas discusses women writing about the need for desire in marriage in Tamil magazines in the 1920s, the complicated impact of modern property laws, and the Dravidian nationalist vision for casteless marriage in colonial South India.

‘In Perspective’ is The Swaddle’s podcast series where academics reveal little-known facts about Indian history, society and culture. 


00:01:17:11- What kind of debates did we see in lawsuits brought by women in colonial Indian courts around what constitutes a wife versus what constitutes a concubine? 

00:04:46:12- What was the mercantile vision of a family versus the joint family? What kind of debates around women’s access to family property do we see in court cases in 20th century colonial South India? And how was the mercantile vision of the conjugal family used to exclude women from individual ownership of property? 

00:10:57:08- How did Dravidian nationalism approach the issue of marital reform in the 20th century? 

00:15:38:20- If we think more broadly about women’s role in the domestic sphere, how was it shifting in the 19th century? And in what ways did this shape national identity in 19th century South Asia? 

00:19:59:14- What led to a shift in the Tamil magazine landscape from an emphasis on appropriate domesticity to a more radical critique of gender relations by the 1920s and 30s?

00:23:51:09- In that space of Tamil print culture, did we see any outright criticisms of marriage itself? 

00:25:01:14- How did reproductive self-regulation get linked to national sovereignty in inter-war India? And was this reproductive regulation targeted at all Indians?

00:30:44:10- How was the ‘hum do, hamare do’ or the small family ideal popularised in India in the 1960s, and how did it tie the idea of a happy future to heteronormative reproduction?


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