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The Good Parsi: The Postcolonial 'Feminization' of a Colonial Elite

T. M. Luhrmann
Man
New Series, Vol. 29, No. 2 (Jun., 1994), pp. 333-357
DOI: 10.2307/2804477
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2804477
Page Count: 25
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The Good Parsi: The Postcolonial 'Feminization' of a Colonial Elite
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Abstract

The article examines a small, middle-class Bombay community (the Parsis) who functioned as an extremely successful and highly Westernized elite during the British Raj. During that time they identified closely with the British and with the traits of progressiveness, rationality and, in particular, masculinity, which the colonial authorities tended to ascribe to themselves as a contrast to the traditional, irrational, effeminate 'natives'. Now, in independent India, Parsis experience their community as having declined from a state of former glory, and they criticize their young men for being effeminate 'Mama's boys'. The article describes this process of metaphor inversion as 'symbolic entailment'.

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