Unfamiliar Relationsrestores the family and its many forms and meanings to a central place in the history of South Asia between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries.In her incisive introduction, Indrani Chatterjee argues that the recent wealth of scholarship on ethnicity, sexuality, gender, imperialism, and patriarchy in South Asia during the colonial period often overlooks careful historical analysis of the highly contested concept of family. Together, the essays in this book demolish family as an abstract concept in South Asian colonial history, demonstrating its exceedingly different meanings across temporal and geographical space.The scholarship in this volume reveals a far more complex set of dynamics than a simple binary between indigeus and colonial forms and structures. It approaches this study from the pre-colonial period on, rather than backwards as has been the case with previous scholarship. Topics include a British colonial officer who married a Mughal blewoman and converted to Islam around the turn of the nineteenth century, the role gossip and taboo play in the formation of Indian family history, and an analysis of social relations in the penal colony on the Andaman Islands.
Indrani Chatterjeeis an associate professor of history at Rutgers University. She is also the author ofGender, Slavery, and Law in Colonial India.