South Asian Feminisms in Historical Perspective

Looking at feminisms across South Asia, and the discrete historical experiences of caste patriarchy, religious nationalism, and social reform.

In this course we delve into the feminisms of the twentieth century, across South Asia. We look at the shared but discrete historical experiences of these places, whether in terms of caste patriarchy, religious nationalism, social reform, decolonisation or neoliberal capitalism.

We look at certain battles for gender rights around inheritance laws, marriage laws, political representation and education across Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh. We will study female literacy among Shia women in piety discourses of the 20th century, Dalit women’s struggles against the devdasi system, Ambedkarite movements led by women to contest power structures through Buddhism, and assertions by litigious widows’ to secure property rights in Allahabad courts, the Partition and feminist law-making, Muslim Personal Laws in Pakistan, and struggles against the Taliban.