Decolonizing Marriage and the Family: The Lives and Letters of Ida, Benoy, and Indira Sarkar

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2019

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10.1353/jowh.2019.0017

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Namakkal, J (2019). Decolonizing Marriage and the Family: The Lives and Letters of Ida, Benoy, and Indira Sarkar. Journal of Women's History, 31(2). pp. 124–147. 10.1353/jowh.2019.0017 Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/19062.

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Namakkal

Jessica Namakkal

Associate Professor of the Practice of International Comparative Studies

My first book Unsettling Utopia: The Making and Unmaking of French (Columbia University Press, 2021) presents a new account of the history of twentieth-century French India to show how colonial projects persisted beyond formal decolonization. Through the experience of the French territories, the book recasts the relationships among colonization, settlement, postcolonial sovereignty, utopianism, and liberation, considering questions of borders, exile, violence, and citizenship from the margins. I demonstrate how state-sponsored decolonization—the bureaucratic process of transferring governance from an imperial state to a postcolonial state—rarely aligned with local desires. The book examines the colonial histories of the Aurobindo Ashram and Auroville, arguing that their continued success shows how decolonization paradoxically opened new spaces of settlement, perpetuating imperial power. Challenging conventional markers of the boundaries of the colonial era as well as nationalist narratives, Unsettling Utopia sheds new light on the legacies of colonialism and offers bold thinking on what decolonization might yet mean.

I am currently working on two new projects, one on decolonizing cults and the other a history of sexuality, race-mixing, and colonialism in the 20th century. 


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