ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Lakshmi and the Scientific Housewife

In this essay I examine the role of home science in the production of both North American and Indian modernities by exploring first, the development of programmes for the production of �modern� homemakers in the US through extension programmes for rural women in the first half of the 20th century; and second, the importation and translation of home science programmes within the newly created nation state of India in the 1950s. The programmes for homemakers in the US emerging out of the newly created field of home science imparted a class-specific, racialised, and sexualised vision of gender relations with the purpose of transforming farming families into capitalist units of production and consumption. Through the politics of nation-building and transnational development aid, this model of agriculture development was exported to India under the auspices of a �modern� and �scientific� programme of agriculture development. Yet these programmes were not imported without change, for many Indians were committed to creating a modern India which was decidedly not western. Thus the translation of the US-based programmes for home science became one of many sites of hybridisation through which an Indian modernity was imagined and produced.

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