In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries there was an unprecedented wave of publications on health and hygiene in Bengali. In these publications, the household, or the “domestic,” was advocated as a crucial site for the practice of health and hygiene. This article analyzes the writings of Bhudeb Mukhopadhyay, Radha Gobinda Kar, and Saratkumari Chaudhurani, three well-known writers and educators who wrote extensively on health, hygiene, and domesticity during this period. It argues that the idea and practice of Hindu middle-class domesticity underwent a radical transformation as a result of its intersection with discourses of hygiene. In particular, it shows how two concepts, “cleanliness” and “care,” which were central to discourses on hygiene, were reformulated as identifying signs of upper caste Bengali domesticity. It further argues that because cleanliness and care were believed to be achieved through the figure of the modern woman or nurse, these debates were also inherently gendered.


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pp. 132-153
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