Professor Stephen Alford
Tutor information is taken from the Module Catalogue
- READING LIST
- Seminar 1: Introduction
- Seminar 2: Sati in Hindu Tradition.
- Seminar 3: Early Modern European Travel Narratives
- Seminar 4: The Evangelical Campaign Against Sati
- Seminar 5: Colonial Debates and Indian Responses
- Seminar 6: The Colonial Debate on Sati
- Seminar 7: Sati after Abolition
- Seminar 8: Nationalism and the ethos of sati
- Seminar 9: The Barh Sati Trial
- Seminar 10. Roop Kanwar and sati in postcolonial India
- Seminar 11: Summing up, revision, exam discussion and feedback
Seminar 1: Introduction
There is no formal preparation necessary for this class, although you are encouraged to read Andrea Major, Sati : a historical anthology , introduction before the class.
Those who are unfamiliar with Indian history may be interested in the following introductions to colonial and post-colonial periods:
Crispin Bates, Subalterns and Raj : South Asia since 1600 , (Abingdon: Routledge, 2007)
Ayesha Jalal and Sugata Bose, Modern South Asia (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1997).
Seminar 2: Sati in Hindu Tradition.
In this seminar we will explore the historical, social and textual origins of sati, and discuss why it is such a controversial aspect of Hindu culture.
To what extent do Hindu religious texts on sati reflect its real significance in Hindu culture?
Sati : a historical anthology , ch. 1, and extract on Tryambakayajvan (pp. 54-62)
1. Mandakranta Bose, (ed), Faces of the feminine in ancient, medieval, and modern India ( New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2000), ch. 2, pp. 21-32
2. Romila Thapar, ‘In History’ in Seminar ,342, 1988, also in Major, Sati : a historical anthology(New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2006).
3. Martha Alter Chen, Perpetual mourning : widowhood in rural India ( New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2000), ch 2. pp. 41-75
Sakuntala Narasimhan, Sati : a study of widow burning in India ( New Delhi: Harper Collins, 1998), esp intro and chs 1 and 2.
Sally J. Sutherland, ‘Suttee, Sati and Sahagamana: an Epic Misunderstanding? ’ in Economic and political weekly., vol. 29: 26, 25th June 1994.
Prem Chowdhry, ‘An Alternative to the "Sati" Model: Perceptions of a Social Reality in Folklore,’ in Asian Folklore Studies , 1990,
Courtright, P.B. From the margins of Hindu marriage : essays on gender, religion, and culture ( Oxford: Oxford Univeristy Press, 1995), ch. 8, pp. 184-203
Julia Leslie, Roles and Rituals for Hindu Women ( Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1992), ch. 8, pp. 173-192
Anne Hardgrove, ‘Sati Worship and Marwari Public Identity in India’ in The journal of Asian studies. , vol. 58:3, August 1999
Arvind Sharma, Sati : historical and phenomenological essays, (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1988).
Katherine K. Young, ‘Hinduism’ in A. Sharma, Women in world religions, (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1987).
Seminar 3: Early Modern European Travel Narratives
In this seminar we will look at some early modern and eighteenth century European accounts of sati. As well as discussing what they tell us about the rite itself, we will look at the nature of travel narratives as historical sources and the influence of the Enlightenment on the way in which sati is discussed.
What do seventeenth and eighteenth century travelers' accounts tell us about changing European attitudes to both women and to India in this period?
Sati : a historical anthology , chs 3 and 4.
1. Kate Teltscher, India inscribed : European and British writing on India, 1600-1800 (Delhi; Oxford University Press), ch 2.
2. Andrea Major, ‘“Pious Flames”: European Encounters With Sati Before 1800’ in South Asia : Journal of South Asian Studies., 27:2, August 2004, pp. 153-181.
3. Norbert Schürer, ‘The Impartial Spectator of Sati, 1757–84’ in Eighteenth-century studies. 42:1, 2008, pp. 19-44.
Andrea Major, ‘Eternal Flames: Suicide, Sinfulness and Insanity In European Constructions Of Sati, 1500-1830.’ in International journal of Asian studies.s, 1, August 2004, pp. 247-276.
Andrea Major, Pious flames : European encounters with sati, 1500-1830 (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2006) chs 2 and 3.
Banerjee, Poompa. Burning women : widows, witches, and early modern European travelers in India , (New York: Palgrave, 2003).
Dorothy Figueira, ‘Die Flambierte Frau: Sati in European Culture’ in John Stratton Hawley, Sati, the blessing and the curse : the burning of wives in India (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994).
Jenny Mezciems, ‘Tis not to Divert the Reader’: Moral and Literary Determinants in some Early Travel Narratives’ in P. Dodd , The art of travel : essays on travel writing (London: Frank Cass, 1982).
Kenneth Parker, (ed), Early modern tales of Orient : a critical anthology , (Routledge, 1999), introduction, pp. 1-35
Jaś Elsner, Joan Pau Rubiés (eds), Voyages and visions : towards a cultural history of travel (Reaktion Books, 1999), ch. 4 pp. 124-137.
Michael Herbert Fisher, William Dalrymple, Visions of Mughal India : an anthology of European travel writing , (I.B.Tauris, 2007), introduction.
Jyotsna G. Singh, Colonial narratives/Cultural dialogues : 'discoveries' of India in the language of colonialism (Routledge, 1996), ch 1.
M. G. Aune, "Elephants, Englishmen and India: Early Modern Travel Writing and the Pre-Colonial Movement" in Early modern literary studies., 11.1 (May, 2005) 4.1-35.
PramodK.Nayar ‘Marvellous Excesses: English Travel Writing and India, 1608–1727’ in The journal of British studies. 44 (April 2005), pp. 213–238.
P. J. Marshall, The British discovery of Hinduism in the eighteenth century (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1970), introduction.
Seminar 4: The Evangelical Campaign Against Sati
British missionaries in India quickly located sati as one of the key ‘barbaric practices’ that ‘proved’ the degraded state of Hindu religion. This session will look at their diatribes against the custom and how this fits with their own agenda and preconceptions.
Do British evangelical accounts of sati tell us more about their own religious and social sensibilities and agendas than about Hindu customs and practices?
Sati : a historical anthology , ch. 6.
1. Jeanette Herman, "Men and women of feeling: Conventions of sensibility and sentimentality in the sati debate and Mainwaring's The Suttee ." Comparative literature studies., 42.2, 2005, pp. 223-263.
2. Brian K. Pennington, Was Hinduism invented? : Britons, Indians, and colonial construction of religion , (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), ch. 3.
3. Clare Midgley, ‘Female Emancipation in an Imperial Frame: English women and the campaign against sati (widow-burning) in India, 1813-1830’ in Women's history review. , 9:1, 2000.
Lata Mani, Contentious traditions : the debate on Sati in colonial India ( Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998), ch. 3.
Andrea Major, Pious flames : European encounters with sati, 1500-1830 , (New Delhi: OUP, 2006), chs 5 and 6 .
Andrea Major, Slavery, abolitionism and empire in India, 1772-1843 , (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2013), ch. 7.
Anna Johnston, Missionary writing and empire, 1800-1860 , (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), intro, parts 1 and 2.
Geoffrey A. Oddie, 'Orientalism’ and British protestant missionary constructions of India in the nineteenth century’, South Asia : Journal of South Asian Studies. . 17:2, 1994, pp. 27-42.
Andrew Porter, ‘Religion, Missionary Enthusiasm And Empire’ in William Roger Lewis (ed), The Oxford History Of The British Empire, vol. 3, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999).
Norman Etherington, Missions and empire , (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005). Ch 6.
Jeffrey Cox, Imperial fault lines : Christianity and colonial power in India, 1818-1940 , (Stanford: Stanford University Press, c2002), intro pp. 1-19
Ian Copland, ‘Christianity As An Arm Of Empire: The Ambiguous Case Of India Under The Company, c. 1813–1858’ in The historical journal. , 2006.
C. Hall and S. O’Rose (eds) At home with the Empire : metropolitan culture and the imperial world, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), ch 7 and 11.
Penelope Carson, ‘An Imperial Dilemma: The propagation of Christianity in early colonial India’ in The journal of imperial and commonwealth history. , 18:2, 1990, pp. 169-190.
Geoffrey A. Oddie, Imagined Hinduism : British Protestant missionary constructions of Hinduism, 1793-1900 (New Delhi: Sage, 2006).
Seminar 5: Colonial Debates and Indian Responses
When the EIC outlawed sati in 1829 it was lauded as the epitome of the civilising mission in action, yet it took them nearly 30 years to reach the decision to act on this issue. This session will look at why the debate was so prolonged, and what the wider issues involved were for both the British and Indians.
Apart from the 'im/morality' of burning windows, what other issues were at stake during debates over the abolition of sati in British India?
Sati : a historical anthology , chs 7 and 8.
1. Lata Mani ‘Contentious Traditions: Production of an Official discourse on Sati in Early 19th Century Bengal’ in K. Sangari and S. Vaid (eds) Recasting women : essays in Indian colonial history ( New Delhi: Kali for Women, 1989), also in Economic and political weekly., 21:17, 1986, pp. 32-40.
2. H. Fischer-Tine and Michael Mann (eds), Colonialism as civilizing mission : cultural ideology in British India, (London: Anthem Press, 2004), ch. 3 on sati
3. Andrea Major ‘A Question Of Rites? Perspectives On The Colonial Encounter With Sati’ in History compass., Sept 2006.
Lata Mani, Contentious traditions : the debate on Sati in colonial India ( Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998).
Arvind Sharma, Sati : historical and phenomenological essays ( Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1988).
Anand Yang, ‘Whose Sati? Widow Burning in Early 19th Century India’ in Journal of women's history., 1:2, 1989, pp. 8-33.
Andrea Major, Pious flames : European encounters with sati, 1500-18300 (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2006), chs 4, 5, 6.
Janaki Nair, Women and law in colonial India : a social history (New Delhi: Kali for women, 1996) , ch 3.
Vasudha Dalmia-Luderitz, ‘Sati as a Religious Rite, Parliamentary Papers on Widow Immolation, 1821-1830’ in Economic and political weekly., 27: 4, 26th April 1986.
Joerg Fisch, Burning women : a global history of widow sacrifice from ancient times to the present , (New York: Seagull, 2006), ch. 14.
V. N. Datta, Sati : a historical, social and philosophical enquiry into the Hindu rite of widow burning ( New Delhi: Manohar, 1987).
Radhika Singha, ‘The privilege of taking life: Some 'anomalies' in the law of homicide in the Bengal Presidency’ in Indian Economic & Social History Review. 1993; 30, pp. 181-214
B. C. Robertson, (ed), The essential writings of Raja Rammohan Ray ( Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1999).
Ashis Nandy, At the edge of psychology : essays in politics and culture ( Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1980), ch 1 (on sati).
David Kopf, British Orientalism and the Bengal renaissance : the dynamics of Indian modernization, 1773-1835 ( Berkeley: University of California Press, 1969).
Arvind Sharma, Sati : historical and phenomenological essays ( Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1988).
M. Anand, Sati : a writeup of Raja Ram Mohan Roy about burning of widows alive ( Delhi: B.R. Publishing, 1989).
Seminar 6: The Colonial Debate on Sati
Pulling together the work done in the preceding seminars, this session will run as a formal debate, with 15 minute presentations on each side, followed by 10 minute rebuttals and then questions from the audience.
Debate: ‘The EIC was morally and politically right to prohibit sati in 1829.’
Group 1: for the proposal
Group 2: against the proposal
Groups should use the primary sources and background readings for seminars 4 and 5 when preparing for this debate. They will be expected to use material from the primary sources to build their case, and to contextualise and criticise that used by others using the secondary literature.
Seminar 7: Sati after Abolition
This seminar explore British encounters with sati after its abolition in British India, both in the context of illegal sati's in British India and the continuance of the rite in the Princely States.
How and why did the British encounter with sati in the Princely states of Rajasthan differ to that in British India?
Sati : a historical anthology , chs 9, 10 and 11.
1. Andrea Major ‘Self-Determined Sacrifices? Victimhood And Volition In British Constructions Of Sati In The Rajput States 1830-60’ in History and anthropology, 17:4, 2006, 313-325 .
2. Varsha Joshi, ‘Deifying the Dead: The Satis of Rajasthan’ in Babb, Joshi and Meister (eds) Multiple histories : culture and society in the study of Rajasthan , (Jaipur: Rawat, 2002),
3. Andrea Major, ‘‘The Hazards of Interference’: British Fears of Rebellion and Sati as a Potential Site of Conflict, 1829-1857’ in Mutiny at the margins : new perspectives on the Indian uprising of 1857. Volume 2, Britain and the Indian uprising: , Crispin Bates (ed.) (Delhi: Sage, 2013), ch. 3.
J. S. Hawley, Sati, the blessing and the curse : the burning of wives in India ( New York: Oxford University Press, 1994), ch. 3 by Harlan, pp. 79-100
Andrea Major, Sovereignty and social reform in India : British colonialism and the campaign against sati, 1830-60 (Routledge, 2012).
Varsha Joshi, Polygamy and purdah : women and society among Rajputs (Rawat Publications, 1995)
Lindsey Harlan, Religion and Rajput women : the ethic of protection in contemporary narratives ( Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992).
Joerg Fisch, Burning women : a global history of widow sacrifice from ancient times to the present , (London: Seagull, 2006), ch on the princely states
Norbert Peabody, ‘Tod's Rajast'han and the Boundaries of Imperial Rule in Nineteenth-Century India’ in Modern Asian studies. , 30:1, 1996, pp. 185-220.
Barbara N. Ramusack, The Indian princes and their states (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004).
Michael H. Fisher, ‘The Resident In Court Ritual, 1764-1858’ in Modern Asian studies., 24:3, 1990
Michael H. Fisher, Indirect rule in India : Residents and the Residency system, 1764-1858, (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1991)
Norbert Peabody, Hindu kingship and polity in precolonial India , (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003)
Robert Stern, The cat and the lion : Jaipur State in the British Raj (Lieden: Brill, 1988).
Malavika Kasturi, Embattled identities : Rajput lineages and the colonial state in nineteenth-century North India , (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2002).
Waltraud Ernst and Biswamoy Pati (eds), India's princely states : people, princes, and colonialism , (London: Routledge, 2007), intro.
Seminar 8: Nationalism and the ethos of sati
This seminar explores the re-emergence of sati as an issue during the campaign for Indian independence, looking particularly at the importance of social, religious and gender issues in the formation of Indian nationalist identity.
Why was sati such a symbolically important issue during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century?
Sati : a historical anthology , chs 12, 13, 14 and 18.
1. Andrea Major, ‘The Burning of Sampati Kuer: Sati and the Politics of Imperialism, Nationalism and Revivalism in 1920s India’ in Gender & history. , 20:2, August 2008, pp. 228-247.
2. Suruchi Thapar ‘Women as Activists; Women as Symbols: A Study of the Indian Nationalist Movement,’ in Feminist review. , 44, 1993, pp. 81–96,
3. Shakuntala Rao, ‘Woman-as-symbol: The intersections of identity politics, gender, and Indian nationalism’ in Women's studies international forum. , 22:3, 1999.
Madhu Kishwar, ‘Gandhi on Women’ in Race and class. , vol. 28:1, 1986.
Sujata Patel, “Construction and Reconstruction of Women in Gandhi” in Economic and political weekly. , (Feb. 1988) and in M. Krishnaraj and A. Thorner, Ideals, images and real lives : women in literature and history ( Bombay: Orient Longman, 2000).
Radha Kumar, R., The history of doing : an illustrated account of movements for women's rights and feminism in India, 1800-1990 ( Delhi: Kali for Women, 1993). Ch 4 and 5
Aparna Basu, “Feminism and Nationalism in India, 1917-1947” in Journal of women's history. , 7:4, 1995.
Geraldine Forbes, Women in modern India , (New Delhi: Cambridge University Press, 1998).
Partha Chatterjee, The nation and its fragments : colonial and postcolonial histories (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993).
Kumkum Sangari and Sudesh Vaid, Recasting women : essays in Indian colonial history ( New Delhi: Kali for Women, 1989).
Janaki Nair, Women and law in colonial India : a social history (New Delhi: Kali for women, 1996), ch. 6
Anupama Roy, Gendered citizenship : historical and conceptual explorations , (Delhi: Orient Longman, 2005), ch. 2 and 3.
A.Mondal ‘The Emblematics of Gender and Sexuality in Indian Nationalist Discourse’, Modern Asian studies. , 36, 2002, 913-936, (electronic resource).
Seminar 9: The Barh Sati Trial
This session will run as a mock trial of the pandits involved in the Barh sati case.
Sati : a historical anthology , Section 5, part 12.
Use the above primary sources on the case when preparing the prosecution and defence. You can contextualise these using the background reading from week 8, especially:
Andrea Major, ‘The Burning of Sampati Kuer: Sati and the Politics of Imperialism, Nationalism and Revivalism in 1920s India’ in Gender & history. , 20:2, August 2008, 228-247.
Group 1: Defence (this group will nominate people to act as defendant, defence lawyers, witnesses for the defence and jurors)
Group 2: Prosecution (this group will nominate prosecution lawyers, witnesses for the prosecution and jurors)
Seminar 10. Roop Kanwar and sati in postcolonial India
This seminar will discuss the controversial 1987 sati of roop Kanwar and discuss the relevance of the sati issue for post-colonial debates about women's position in India.
What does the debate about the sati of Roop Kanwar tell us about the political environment of India at the time?
Sati : a historical anthology , ch. 19.
1. Radha Kumar, The history of doing : an illustrated account of movements for women's rights and feminism in India, 1800-1990 ( Delhi: Kali for Women, 1993). Ch 11.
2. Kumkum Sangari and Sudesh Vaid, ‘Institutions, Beliefs, Ideologies: Widow Immolation in Contemporary Rajastan’ in Kumari Jayawardena and Malathi De Alwis, Embodied Violence: Communalising Women’s Sexuality in India (Delhi: Kali for Women, 1996). Also in Economic and political weekly. vol. 26: 17, April 27th 1991.
3. Madhu Kishwar, Off the beaten track : rethinking gender justice for Indian women (New Delhi; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), ch on Roop Kanwar
Anne Hardgrove, Community and Public Culture: The Marwaris in Calcutta , (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2004), chs 5 and 6. (available online at http://www.gutenberg-e.org/haa01/ )
Rajeswari Sunder Rajan, “The Subject of Sati: Pain and Death in the Contemporary Discourse on Sati” in Yale journal of criticism., vol. 3:2, 1990.
Rajeswari Sunder Rajan, Real and imagined women : gender, culture, and postcolonialism (Routledge, 1993), chs 1 and 2.
Kumkum Sangari and Sudesh Vaid, ‘Sati in Modern India: A Report’ in Economic and political weekly.y, vol. 16: 31, available online at http://www.cscsarchive.org/MediaArchive/audience.nsf/b1bc9409c64d85a06525698d0025dc3c/48324aa3fa14a6e7652571f60037864a/$FILE/A0220126.pdf
Andrea Major, ‘A Question Of Rites? Perspectives On The Colonial Encounter With Sati’, History compass. , Sept 2006, (from me).
John Stratton Hawley, Sati, the blessing and the curse : the burning of wives in India ( New York: Oxford University Press, 1994), ch. 3, 4, and 5 (with afterwords). 1
John Stratton Hawley, ‘Hinduism: Sati and its defenders’ in Fundamentalism and gender, (Oxford University Press US, 1994)
Ania Loomba, ‘Dead Women Tell No Tales: Issues of Female Subjectivity, Subaltern Agency and Tradition in Colonial and Post-Colonial Writings on Widow Immolation in India’ in History workshop journal., 36:1, 1993.
Kavita et al, ‘Rural Women Speak’ in Seminar , 342, 1988.
Vaid, Thapar, et al, ‘Symposium on Sati’ special issue of Seminar , 342, 1988.
M. Sen, Death by fire : sati, dowry death and female infanticide in modern India , (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 2001),
U. Narayan, Dislocating cultures : identities, traditions, and Third-World feminism ( New York: Routlege, 1997), esp ch 2, pp. 41-80 (ch 1 also relevant).
Chilla Bulbeck, Re-orienting western feminisms : women's diversity in a post-colonial world ( Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), esp ch. 2, pp. 57-96
Lata Mani, ‘Multiple Mediations: Feminist Scholarship in the Age of Multinational Reception’ Feminist review., 35, 1990, (electronic resource)
Seminar 11: Summing up, revision, exam discussion and feedback
This list was last updated on 04/01/2016