Reproductive Restraints: Birth Control in India, 1877-1947

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University of Illinois Press, Jan 10, 2008 - History - 251 pages
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Reproductive Restraints traces the history of contraception use and population management in colonial India, while illuminating its connection to contemporary debates in India and birth control movements in Great Britain and the United States. Sanjam Ahluwalia draws attention to the interactive and relational history of Indian birth control by including western activists such as Margaret Sanger and Marie Stopes alongside important Indian campaigners. In revealing the elitist politics of middle-class feminists, Indian nationalists, western activists, colonial authorities and the medical establishment, Ahluwalia finds that they all sought to rationalize procreation and regulate women while invoking competing notions of freedom, femininity, and family.

Ahluwalia’s remarkable interviews with practicing midwives in rural northern India fills a gaping void in the documentary history of birth control and shows that the movement has had little appeal to non-elite groups in India. Finding that Jaunpuri women’s reproductive decisions are bound to their emotional, cultural, and economic reliance on family and community, Ahluwalia presents the limitations of universal liberal feminist categories, which often do not consider differences among localized subjects. She argues that elitist birth control efforts failed to account for Indian women’s values and needs and have worked to restrict reproductive rights rather than liberate subaltern Indian women since colonial times.

 

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Contents

Introduction
1
Indian MiddleClass Advocates of Birth Control 18771947
23
Western Advocates and Discourse of Birth Control in Colonial India 1920s40s
54
Indian MiddleClass Feminism and Debates on Birth Control in Nationalist India 1920s40s
85
Colonial Attitudes on Birth Control in the Twentieth Century
115
Medical Practitioners and the Politics of Birth Contol in Colonial India 192047
143
Epilogue
173
Notes
187
Bibliography
219
Index
241
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About the author (2008)

Sanjam Ahluwalia is an associate professor of history and women's studies at Northern Arizona University.

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