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Reproductive Politics and the Making of Modern India


Beginning in the late nineteenth century, India played a pivotal role in global conversations about population and reproduction. In this talk about her new book, Reproductive Politics and the Making of Modern India, Sreenivas demonstrates how colonial administrators, postcolonial development experts, nationalists, eugenicists, feminists, and family planners all aimed to reform reproduction to transform both individual bodies and the body politic. Across the political spectrum, people insisted that regulating reproduction was necessary and that limiting the population was essential to economic development. This talk investigates the often devastating implications of this logic, which demonized some women’s reproduction as the cause of national and planetary catastrophe.

To tell this story, Prof. Mytheli Sreenivas explores debates about marriage, family, and contraception. She also demonstrates how concerns about reproduction surfaced within a range of political questions about poverty and crises of subsistence, migration and claims of national sovereignty, normative heterosexuality and drives for economic development.

Nicholas Breyfogle | Associate Professor, Department of History; Director, Goldberg Center
Mytheli Sreenivas | Associate Professor, Departments of History and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies

This talk is brought to you by the Clio Society of the Ohio State History Department, in partnership with the Bexley Public Library.

close-up of an Indian man and woman's hands at their wedding ceremony


Posted September 14, 2021

[A transcript of this podcast is available here.]