The figure of the devadasi, or ‘temple-woman’, who entertained Hindu gods at festivals, hardly needs an introduction. Because of her supposed sexual availability, the devadasi became a potent and notorious symbol of the corruption of Hindu society.
The interaction between western men's and native women's sexuality makes the human body central to the articulation of colonial/imperial ideologies. Setting her study in eighteenth-century British India, Ghosh emphasises a pan-imperial understanding of body, and the role of race, gender and sexuality in empire-building in the early modern period.
Historians of the British Empire have long recognized the hunger strike—famously embraced by suffragettes in Britain, and by nationalists in Ireland and India—as a transnational tactic of democratic, anti-colonial resistance.