By Ashwini Tambe
Around the 19th and 20th centuries, legislators in Bombay handed a chain of repetitive legislation looking to keep an eye on prostitution. in the course of the similar time, Bombay’s intercourse grew colossal in scale. Ashwini Tambe explores why those remarkably related legislation did not in attaining their target and questions the particular goal of such lawmaking. opposed to the backdrop of the commercial development of Bombay, Codes of Misconduct examines the connection among lawmaking, legislation enforcement, and sexual trade. Ashwini Tambe demanding situations linear readings of the way legislation create results and demonstrates that the law and criminalization of prostitution weren't contrasting techniques to prostitution yet varied modes of kingdom coercion. by way of studying criminal prohibitions as effective forces, she additionally probes the pornographic mind's eye of the colonial nation, exhibiting how rules made sexual trade extra obvious yet rendered the prostitute silent. Codes of Misconduct engages with debates on kingdom keep an eye on of intercourse paintings and strains how a colonial legacy impacts modern efforts to comprise the unfold of HIV and decriminalize intercourse staff in India this present day. In doing so, Tambe’s paintings not just provides to our realizing of empire, sexuality, and the legislation, it additionally sheds new gentle at the lengthy historical past of Bombay’s transnational hyperlinks and the social worlds of its underclasses.
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Additional info for Codes of Misconduct: Regulating Prostitution in Late Colonial Bombay
He maps sexuality in India along Foucault’s schema, characterizing it as a system of alliances, even quoting Foucault’s description directly: “a system of rules deﬁning the permitted and forbidden, the licit and the illicit” (46). In a similar vein, Nair (1996a, 1996b) claims that the shift from the system of alliances that Foucault details in the case of Europe did not occur in the t h e co lo n i a l s tat e , l aw, a n d s e x ua l i t y 21 case of colonial India. She links the decisive changes in Europe to the rise of individualism, which the colonial economy did not engender, subordinated as it was to the metropolitan economy.
FEMINIST INITIATIVES: CRITIQUING LEGAL DICHOTOMIES Much feminist attention has been focused on the slew of laws passed in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries that reformed women’s status. Scholars such as Chakravarti (1998) question colonial historians’ assumption that the state served a new ordering and rationalizing function. Chakravarti instead asserts that even in precolonial times, a rational structure of caste law existed, held together by the state. Countering historians who characterize the precolonial period as one with a multiplicity of caste laws with no ﬁxed Hindu law, she argues that “discrete caste laws functioned within an overarching conceptualization” (1998, 186).
Guha (1997) ﬁnds that the power of colonial law lay in the abstractions it generated: it took real historical ﬁgures and events and placed them outside history, by translating them into a discourse expressing the will of an omnipresent state. Guha terms this t h e co lo n i a l s tat e , l aw, a n d s e x ua l i t y 7 discourse a kind of appropriation, as it erased the perspectives that situated historical experience within the life of a community. On a social scale, the attempt at “rule of law” reﬂected a general urge to order, to imprint an ethos of abstract principles, and a new, less familiar, language of authority.
Codes of Misconduct: Regulating Prostitution in Late Colonial Bombay by Ashwini Tambe