Until Jessica Hinchy’s latest book, Governing Gender and Sexuality in Colonial India: The Hijra, c.1850-1900 (Cambridge University Press, 2019), there was no single monograph dedicated to the history of the Hijra community. Perhaps this silence can bear the loudest testament of the marginalization this gender non-confirming community was subjected to under British colonial rule. This book is, therefore, important not only because of its efforts to humanize and situate this community amid the anxieties and hubristic ambitions of colonial rule, but also because it documents the ability many Hijras have to preserve in spite of systematic policing and criminalization. More importantly, perhaps, Jessica Hinchy reveals that the Hijras’ were not just surveilled or marginalized; British colonial authorities ultimately aimed to eradicate and eliminate the community entirely.

Jessica Hinchy is Assistant Professor in History at the Nanyang Technological University, in Singapore. Her research examines gender, sexuality and colonialism in India. In addition to studying the history of the transgender Hijra community under British colonial rule, Dr. Hinchy has also explored problems related to slavery, masculinity, and indirect colonial rule in India through several publications on Khwajasarai eunuch-slaves. She has also investigated the history of childhood, in particular in relation to sexuality and slavery.

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