"This book is a search for ‘the real Anandibai Joshee’ —— a search in which the readers are invited to participate."
In her short and eventful life, Anandibai Joshee, the first Indian woman to earn a medical degree, broke many stereotypes. Literate at a time when it was taboo for a girl to attend school or even ‘pick up a paper’, she was courageous, articulate, and assertive. And ambitious. Fuelled by a desire to improve the healthcare that was available to Indian women at that time, she travelled across the seas to the United States to study medicine.
Meera Kosambi’s biography of Anandibai is more than just a retelling of the life of a woman who was ahead of her times. Drawing on a host of narratives, Kosambi recovers Anandibai’s many voices, which have been submerged in history — that of a conflicted feminist, a nationalist, and a reformer, among others — and her engagement with the world at large.
This volume is a testament to Meera Kosambi’s commitment to social history. When she passed away in 2015, she left an incomplete manuscript that has painstakingly been put together by the editors. Drawing on archival research, including a host of Anandibai’s letters, her poems in Marathi, newspaper reports, and rare photographs, this book will be of immense interest to scholars and researchers of modern Indian history, sociology, gender, and South Asian studies.
Table of Contents
Introduction by Aban Mukherji
Part I: New Horizons
1. Early Life
2. An American Connection
3. An Indo-American Dialogue
4. The Bengal Interlude: Calcutta
5. The Bengal Interlude: Serampore
6. ‘Why Do I Go To America?’
Part II: A Passage to America
7. Crossing the Seas
8. Cultural Encounters
9. Entry into Medical College
10. Life in Philadelphia
11. A Family Reunion
12. Completing College
13. Graduation and After
Part III: The Return of the Native
14. Homeward Bound
15. The Last Flicker
16. A Death Mourned and Lives Resumed
The late Meera Kosambi was a sociologist who retired as Professor and Director, Research Centre for Women’s Studies, Shreemati Nathibai Damodar Thackersey Women’s University, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India. She was trained in India, Sweden, and the United States, and specialized in urban studies and women’s studies. Her publications include Gender, Culture and Performance: Marathi Theatre and Cinema before Independence (2015, Routledge); Crossing Thresholds (2007); Women Writing Gender (2012); and Mahatma Gandhi and Prema Kantak (2013).
Ram Ramaswamy recently retired from the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, India, where he taught in the School of Physical Sciences since 1986. He is presently a visiting professor at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Delhi. With a sustained interest in the work of Meera Kosambi, and her father D. D. Kosambi, he has, in addition to the present work, edited two collections of D. D. Kosambi’s essays and papers, Adventures into the Unknown: Essays by D. D. Kosambi (2016) and D. D. Kosambi: Selected Works in Mathematics and Statistics (2016).
Madhavi Kolhatkar retired as Professor in Sanskrit Dictionary Project, Deccan College, Pune, India. She has a PhD in Sanskrit from Pune University and working knowledge of German, Russian, Tibetan, and Japanese. She has attended seminars and conferences in the United States, Japan, and Romania; and was invited to Japan for a joint project undertaken by China and Japan. She has nine books and more than hundred published articles in English, Sanskrit, and Marathi.
Aban Mukherji is a freelance writer and translator. She has a master's degree in History and has co-translated (with Tulsi Vatsal) Karan Gehlo, the first Gujarati novel published in 1866. She has contributed articles to various publications.