The Career Narratives of Anglo-Indian Women Employed as School Teachers in Bangalore

Jyothsna Latha Belliappa and Sanchia deSouza

Abstract


This paper presents findings from qualitative research on the relationship between gender, cultural, and professional identities amongst Anglo-Indian women employed as school teachers in Bengaluru (Bangalore), in the later part of the 20th century. The histories of linguistic and religious minority schools in the Southern Indian city of Bangalore and that of the Anglo-Indian community are closely related. In both colonial and post-colonial India, the community’s biracial status created specific economic opportunities and constraints. As job opportunities for Anglo-Indian men became restricted by the changing policies of the colonial state across the 19th and 20th centuries, Anglo-Indian women sought jobs in nursing, office administration and teaching. Over the 20th century, Anglo-Indian women’s cultural capital (proficiency in English, familiarity with Western literature, music and theatre) made them valuable employees in religious (Christian) and linguistic minority schools. The women interviewed mobilized this cultural capital alongside social capital (networks of relatives and friends within the community and church) to find employment as teachers. In doing so they showed a marked degree of agency but once employed, their agency tended to be circumscribed by gender and community identity. Based on in-depth interviews that employed a life story interview technique, we argue that Anglo-Indian teachers’ professional lives are shaped by a complex relationship among economic exigencies, cultural norms, community loyalties and religiosity. The paper extends existing literature on the community by highlighting women’s contribution and experience as educators. It also contributes to the nascent literature on school teachers’ lives in India from an intersectional perspective by focussing on a minority community.


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