Forging Identities: Gender, Communities, and the State


This volume challenges the assumption that Muslims in India constitute a homogeneous community, with specific characteristics deriving from Islam. Instead, it locates the community within the social, economic, and political developments that have taken place in the subcontinent, pre- and post-Independence, in order to examine how exactly the delineation of minority identity takes place. The implications of this process for women are quite clear: social reality is gendered, yet women's attempts to assert their rights have been constrained by the pressures of communal politics. The domain of cultural politics, moreover, has generated ideologies that have subordinated gender equality to minority identity. Despite a surge in feminist literature, there are only a few studies that explore the link between gender and religious community or analyze the integration of women into communitarian processes. Through an examination of history, law, politics, work, and culture, this collection looks at how the construction of community identity has affected Muslim women in India, the processes by which such identities are constructed, and how the question of gender and community identity intersects with the state's discourse on equality and secularism. The contributors offer readers subtle understanding of the complex interaction of women's multiple identities with the dynamics of state policy, cultural nationalism, and identity politics.

Additional information

Includes content by:
  • Zoya Hasan
  • Barbara D. Metcalf
  • Faisal Fatehali Devji
  • Shahida Lateef
  • Amrita Chhachhi
Publisher: Place of publication:
  • Boulder, CO
Publication year:
  • 1994


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