Everyday Emotional Practices of Fathers and Children in Late Colonial Bengal, India

  • Swapna M. Banerjee
Part of the Palgrave Studies in the History of Emotions book series (Palgrave Studies in the History of Emotions)


The ideological discourse on family that emerged in nineteenth-century Bengal was cemented, as Pradip Bose has argued, by ‘the new idea of childhood’, with the implication of ‘more intense emotional ties between parents and children within the family and a weakening of ties with relatives outside the immediate family’.1 Indeed, India’s encounter with the West through British colonialism produced a climate that fostered a new group of intelligentsia in the nineteenth century who questioned the past and envisioned a series of socio-cultural practices that pertained to men, women and children in the domestic domain. Bengal, with Calcutta (now Kolkata) as the imperial capital until 1911, was particularly prolific in spawning this social group, known as the bhadralok or the ‘respectable’ middle class, who envisioned a new model of womanhood, family and children.2 As progenitors of ideas of a new nation, these early intellectuals left ample documents of their emerging notions of an ideal family and the roles of the ‘new woman’ as an ideal mother, with clear-cut instructions on how to raise children.


Physical Punishment Emotional Community Late Colonial Autobiographical Narrative Ideal Mother 
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© Swapna M. Banerjee 2015

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  • Swapna M. Banerjee

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