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Abstract

Histories of the family and household in South Asia, while they appear at first to represent a micro-historical and regional approach, have in recent years engaged with global histories of ideas and material culture. This article argues that studying ‘imperial social formation’ at the level of the family provides important insights into the ways in which global and local forces interact and coexist. It provides us with the means to write a ‘thicker’ history of the development of the modern global economy as well as more precisely charting the evolution of political forces in the colonial and postcolonial world. Looking at recent work by a new generation of historians blurring traditional disciplinary boundaries, ‘family histories’ offer a means of reconciling micro and macro historiographies of modern South Asia.