Janaki Nair


The author pursues the investigation into women's historical past to unearth the dual meanings of law and its role in regulating female sexuality. The author traces the changing fortunes of the devadasi in Mysore State from a nityasumangali (ever auspicious woman) to an unorganised subaltern sex-worker. The article simultaneously examines the attitude of the British imperial army to prostitutes, seen initially as the carriers of deadly sexually transmitted diseases. Nair suggests that women’s voices, critical of patriarchal reconstruction of women's sexuality, existed though in a muted and fragmentary form. (Editor’s abstract.)



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