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Household Management guides and cookery books for memsahibs: Accounting in the home and promoting the ethos of Empire

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Simon Pallett, Professor David McCollum-Oldroyd


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The paper examines the genre of household management guides and cookery books, produced on behalf of British wives emigrating to India c.1870-1950. It shows that accounting controls in India emanated not just from the imperial and provincial governments and commercial interests, but from the households of the settlers and resident administrators. Furthermore, it was not just the behaviour of the natives that these guides were intended to mould. They were also instrumental in defining social relations in India by setting acceptable standards of behaviour for the empire-builders as well. Comparison with management guides written for British households demonstrates that relations between mistress and servant in India were largely defined by class relations at home, providing evidence that social relations with household servants in the British colonies were based primarily on class and not just ethnicity.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Pallett S, Oldroyd D, Dunn I

Publication type: Conference Proceedings (inc. Abstract)

Conference Name: British Accounting Association

Year of Conference: 2004