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Coming of Age: Law, Sex and Childhood in Late Colonial India



This article revisits child-marriage legislation in colonial India between 1891 and 1929 to re-envision the ‘child’ as a subject constituted by laws governing sex, rather than as an a priori object requiring protection from patriarchal sexual norms. Focusing on the digital construction of the child in the twentieth century, this essay introduces a new angle from which to examine recent conclusions regarding child-marriage reform in India. By drawing attention to an understudied figure, this article demonstrates the ways in which the problem of the child might transform understandings of the nation and its women; the universe of rights and the location of culture and the place of age as number in the formulation of legal subjectivities, colonial governmentality and humanitarian accounting in late colonial India.