South Asian Feminisms

South Asian Feminisms

Book Pages: 432 Illustrations: 1 illustration Published: March 2012

Asian Studies > South Asia, Gender and Sexuality > Feminism and Women’s Studies, Postcolonial and Colonial Studies

During the past forty years, South Asia has been the location and the focus of dynamic, important feminist scholarship and activism. In this collection of essays, prominent feminist scholars and activists build on that work to confront pressing new challenges for feminist theorizing and practice. Examining recent feminist interventions in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh, they address feminist responses to religious fundamentalism and secularism; globalization, labor, and migration; militarization and state repression; public representations of sexuality; and the politics of sex work. Their essays attest to the diversity and specificity of South Asian locations and feminist concerns, while also demonstrating how feminist engagements in the region can enrich and advance feminist theorizing globally.

Contributors. Flavia Agnes, Anjali Arondekar, Firdous Azim, Anannya Bhattacharjee, Laura Brueck, Angana P. Chatterji, Malathi de Alwis, Toorjo Ghose, Amina Jamal, Ratna Kapur, Lamia Karim, Ania Loomba, Ritty A. Lukose, Vasuki Nesiah, Sonali Perera, Atreyee Sen, Mrinalini Sinha, Ashwini Sukthankar


“[A] good, readable, and ethnographically rich resource for anyone who wants to know more about feminist theory and activism in South Asia.
Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above.” — L. M. Proctor, Choice

“This book offers a healthy balance of theory and practice in feminist thought... [and] attempts to contextualize feminism and give South Asian feminism a unique brand which is valuable for both feminist scholarship and students. South Asian Feminisms offers pertinent directions for a feminist future in South Asia.” — Minaz Master, Asian Anthropology

South Asian Feminisms is a timely addition to the existing scholarship regarding feminist endeavors on the ground in South Asia, as well as the theoretical work that has emerged from engaging with particular South Asian sites, be they historical archives or literary narratives, among others.” — Dashini Jeyathurai, Feminist Formations

“The essays in this anthology demonstrate the diversity of South Asian women's concerns…. Editors Ania Loomba and Ritty Lukose bring together a variety of viewpoints, from feminist activists and social workers to academics on various complex issues such as women's activism, and the impact on gender of fundamentalist religious politics in this part of the Global South…. South Asian feminisms encompass a range of movements, with regard to race, class, religion, gender and ethnicities, and the issues that they cover are complex and diverse, as demonstrated in this important anthology.” — Shoba Sharad Rajgopal, Asian Journal of Women's Studies

“This volume provides a meaningful and engaging dialogue on feminist scholarship and activism in South Asia, attesting to the diversity and specificity of this region and its varied challenges and engagements.” — Rohit K. Dasgupta, Asian Affairs

“[A]n important contribution to scholarship on feminism, and on South Asia more generally…. One of the great strengths of this volume is that insightful and sustained critique is consistently accompanied by attention to the possibilities for South Asian feminisms opened up when we listen to the voices of those who have been silenced and marginalized.” — Kalyani Devaki Menon, Asian Studies Review

"Artfully blurring the lines between theory and practice, the editors link together essays by social workers, activists, organizers, and scholars who write from the field as well as within traditional academic locations." — Amy Bhatt, Signs

"[T]he collection's greatest strength lies in this plural approach, as well as a focus on South Asia, as a region, which gives space to Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka without reverting to a single national hegemonic frame." — Wasafari

“While most books about feminism in South Asia are country-specific, this collection has a genuinely regional focus. Essays explicitly address feminist activism and concerns in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. Given the pioneering nature of South Asian feminist politics and scholarship, there is considerable interest in new work that spans the region. South Asian Feminisms takes on contemporary themes—such as labor, sexuality, and religion and secularism—that resonate across the region and beyond.” — Mary John, author of Discrepant Dislocations: Feminism, Theory, and Postcolonial Histories

"South Asian Feminisms grapples fearlessly with the most challenging questions of our time. What is the work of feminism in an age of accelerating state-sponsored violence? How do women resist the depredations of national and global security regimes? How has the combination of rights claims and international development machinery compromised feminist practice? When, where, and under what conditions has the rule of law failed women and consolidated new forms of gendered injustice? What, indeed, is the geopolitical remit of 'South Asian feminisms,' whether theoretical or practical? Ania Loomba and Ritty A. Lukose have assembled a formidable set of interlocutors whose interdisciplinary breadth is matched by their keen analyses, their graphic examples, and their categorical refusal of easy diagnoses. Put down your books and get up from your desks: This is a call to action—in the world, now, today." — Antoinette Burton, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

"A rich collection of essays from scholars based in and outside of South Asia. These incisive essays testify to the vitality of South Asian feminist politics and the ability of feminist researchers and activists to analyze and engage with national, regional, and global pasts and futures. This is a project of solidarity as well as scholarship." — Inderpal Grewal, author of Transnational America: Feminisms, Diasporas, Neoliberalisms


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Ania Loomba is the Catherine Bryson Professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania, where she is affiliated with the departments of Comparative Literature, South Asian Studies, Women’s Studies, and Asian-American Studies.

Ritty A. Lukose is Associate Professor at the Gallatin School of Individualized Study at New York University.

Table of Contents Back to Top
South Asian Feminisms: Contemporary Interventions / Ania Loomba and Ritty A. Lukose 1

I. Feminism, Religion, and the Secular

From Shah Bano to Kausar Bano: Contextualizing the "Muslim Woman" within a Communalized Polity / Flavia Agnes 33

Global Discourses, Situated Traditions, and Muslim Women's Agency in Pakistan / Amina Jamal 54

Martial Tales, Right-Wing Hindu Women, and "History Telling" in the Bombay Slums / Atreyee Sen 75

II. Feminism, Labor, and Globalization

Of Moments, Not Monuments: Feminism and Labor Activism in Postnational Sri Lanka / Sonali Perera 97

Feminism, Migration, and Labor: Movement Building in a Globalized World / Anannya Bhattacharjee 117

III. Feminism, War, Peace

Uncomfortable Alliances: Women, Peace, and Security in Sri Lanka / Vasuki Nesiah 139

Feminist Politics and Maternalist Agonism / Malathi de Alwis 162

Witnessing as Feminist Intervention in India-Administered Kashmir / Angana P. Chatterji 181

IV. Feminism, Figuration, and the Politics of Reading and Writing

Transnational Politics of Reading and the (Un)making of Taslima Nasreen / Lamia Karim 205

At the Intersection of Gender and Caste: Rescripting Rape in Dalit Feminist Narratives / Laura Brueck 224

Subject to Sex: A Small History of the Gomantak Maratha Samaj / Anjali Arondekar 244

V. Feminism, Sex Work, and the Politics of Sexuality

Keeping Sexuality on the Agenda: The Sex Workers' Movement in Bangladesh / Firdous Azim 267

Politicizing Political Society: Mobilization among Sex Workers in Sonagachi, India / Toorjo Ghose 285

Queering Approaches to Sex, Gender, and Labor in India: Examining Paths to Sex Worker Unionism / Ashwini Sukthankar 306

VI. Feminist Crisis and Futures

Hecklers to Power? The Waning of Liberal Rights and Challenges to Feminism in India / Ratna Kapur 333

A Global Perspective on Gender: What's South Asia Got to Do with It? / Mrinalini Sinha 356

Bibliography 375

Contributors 407

Index 411
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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-5179-5 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-5165-8
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