chapter 1: learning gender, knowing english
1. Nagarkar, Ravan and Eddie, 180. Nagarkar is known for his Marathi-language
script and ﬁction writing, but his introduction indicates that he wrote this
particular novel in English.
2. The term ‘‘native’’ was used by the British and Europeans in India to indicate
all inhabitants of the subcontinent. It was drenched in disparaging overtones,
but, as is evident from later chapters, educated Indians chose to use the term
to designate themselves. For instance, the Alexandra Native Girls’ English
Institution, inaugurated in the nineteenth century by natives, only dropped
the term from its name in the 1920s.
3. Butler, Gender Trouble, 173.
4. Such an assessment of the way that things accrue social and cultural meaning
through historically shaped social relationships is laid out in the wonderful
collection of essays edited by Appadurai, The Social Life of Things.
5. Volosinov’s assertion that ‘‘language acquires life and historically evolves pre-
cisely in concrete verbal communication, and not in the abstract linguistic
system of language forms, nor in the individual psyche of speakers’’ is entirely
relevant here, although it is vital to recognize that he was separating spoken
acts from literary and textual ones. The distinction between the spoken and
the literary is not as evident in the sources I approach here, although his
point remains relevant to my interest in culling the ‘‘social life’’ of English.
Volosinov, Marxism and the Philosophy of Language, 58.
6. Especially helpful in directing my study, Nikolas Rose asks us to ‘‘question the
whole tyranny of ‘language’ or communication or meaning that has been
invoked by the social knowledges for so long in the course of their claims to be
distinguished from the natural sciences . . . [to] focus not on what language means
but on what it does.’’ Rose, Inventing Our Selves, 178 (my emphasis).
7. Scholars historicizing a range of cultural products, from ‘‘science’’ to ‘‘happi-
ness,’’ have employed a similar methodology. In Another Reason, Gyan Prakash
argues that ‘‘science means not only what scientists did but also what science