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W@TC - Schoolgirl Pens: Girlhoods, Microhistories, and the Transnational Circulation of Knowledge in Late Colonial India

Headshot of woman with long black hair inside of the JHFC logo comprised of colorful books in a circle. A QR code is also present that links to the Zoom registration.
Wednesday, March 27, 2024
1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Sudipa Topdar
Wednesdays at the Center

Join Wednesdays at the Center on March 27 with Sudipa Topdar, Associate Professor in the Department of History at the Illinois State University for her talk titled "Schoolgirl Pens: Girlhoods, Microhistories, and the Transnational Circulation of Knowledge in Late Colonial India".

By the 1890s the Loreto convent schools (estb. 1848) founded to educate European, Eurasian, and Indian girls emerged as a leading institution for female education in colonial India. This talk pays attention to the rare archives of schoolgirls' writings exchanged between the Loreto schools in India and Australia to emphasize their roles as authors, child-citizens, and circulators of knowledge. Tracing the insights that these writings offer, Topdar discusses the schoolgirls' interiorities, their guarded inner lives inside a convent school, and their everyday social lives outside the family. Topdar uses a conceptual framework that combines microhistory with transnational histories. My narrative integrates the everyday experiences of the Loreto schoolgirls with the transnational circulation of ideas where children played a significant historical role. How did ordinary Loreto schoolgirls living across various cities in eastern and northern India experience transnational connectedness? How did the schoolgirls and the tales of their everyday lives contribute to the making of this connected world? Topdar explores forms of belonging for girls that combined cosmopolitan selfhoods with citizenship of the British Empire as a way to destabilize nationalism as the only powerful unit of bonding for children in late colonial India.

This event will be hybrid. Registration is required to join via Zoom. Light refreshments will be provided.

Contact: Rhiannon See