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

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Through a Changing Feminist Lens

Three Biographies of Anandibai Joshi

The problem for any biographer of Dr Anandibai Joshi, the first woman degree holder in western medicine, is, how to cast the relationship between mentor-husband Gopalrao Joshi and Anandibai, i e, how do we give Gopalrao due credit for whatever he did without reducing Anandi into entirely being his product. This article compares three biographies of Anandibai and argues that her persona, especially her relationship with Gopalrao, needs to be revisited by postcolonial feminist scholarship in order to unravel the tremendous intellectual and imaginative adventure that Anandibai's journey was and to explore the thoroughgoing radicalism that informed the shaping of Anandibai's life.

The author expresses gratitude to the anonymous referee whose suggestions for revision have helped improve the article.

Anandibai Joshi (1865-87), a Marathi Chitpavan brahmin woman of the 19th century western India, was an exceptional “high caste Hindu woman”1 who has gone down in history as the first woman doctor of India.2 She earned an MD from Women’s Medical College, Pennsylvania in 1886. She went there determined to “return as a Hindu” and made as little change in her costume and diet as possible throughout her three years of student life in America. Her health started failing rapidly as she neared the completion of her studies, and although she died of tuberculosis shortly after returning to India and did not get an opportunity of fulfilling her long-standing dream of “serving the women of her nation”, the story of her life, her journey into modernity is something that will engage the imagination of modern India for a long time to come and for more reasons than one.

Extraordinary Transition

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