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This chapter examines Kailashbashini Debi’s Janaika Grihabadhur Diary (The Diary of a Housewife), which was written between 1847 and 1873, a critical juncture of colonial Bengal’s history, when the “women’s question” was being deliberated. While contextualizing her diary within the larger debates of reformist politics in nineteenth century Bengal, this chapter focuses on the manner in which she “constructs” her self and gives primacy to her voice—however fragmented and elusive it might be. Further, the chapter reflects on the tensions that are generated by her being apparently molded by reformist politics and her contestations of these dominant discourses. The reading is concerned not only with the individual act of a woman writing her “self,” but also with its being determined by the ideas of the possible reception of such a text even when it is not being written with the explicit idea of publication, as is the case here.

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