Accepted Paper:

The Girl Guide movement in colonial and postcolonial India  


Kristine Alexander (The University of Lethbridge)

Paper short abstract:

Foregrounding age and gender as categories of analysis, this paper examines the Girl Guide movement’s attempts to mobilize girlhood for sometimes contested ends in late colonial and postcolonial India.

Paper long abstract:

Geraldine Forbes's 1996 book Women in Modern India includes a photograph a group of Indian Girl Guides wearing saris, accompanied by the caption "In Training to Join Gandhi: Bharat Scouts, Allahabad, 1929." This image, which raises many questions about the place of girls and organized youth movements in late colonial India, is not discussed in any detail in Forbes' text. My paper will begin to answer some of these questions by discussing the Guide movement in India between the 1920s and 1960s. Foregrounding age and gender as categories of analysis, the paper uses periodicals and records from various Guide archives and the All-India Women's Conference to better understand the movement's sometimes contested vision of citizenship, physical culture, and national/international girlhood. Tracing the shifts that took place before and after Independence, the talk will end with a discussion of Sangam, the global Girl Guide hostel that was opened in Pune in 1966.

Panel P07
Mobilizing youth in colonial and post-colonial South Asia