Cultural History of Bengali Muslim Women
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This research is exploring the identity formation of Bengali Muslim women by investigating the cultural and political history of Bangladesh spanning the 20th Century. The first phaseof the researchis looking into the early twentieth century and anti-colonial nationalist movements, and how it addresses women. The second phase is focusing on the middle decades of the twentieth century when language, culture and national identity become extremely important. The third phase of the research will explore the themes of nation, culture, progress, modernity and women’s sexuality and focus on the contestations between them.
This project will bring into the research purview an area that is largely overlooked in gender studies, development studies, and even in historical research. Understanding how culture operates in women’s lives, helps us to question and broaden existing notions of empowerment, and may provide detailed and nuanced understanding of the ways that women negotiate with new opportunities.
The Research will take place from June 2009-March 2011. A book is the expected outcome of this research. We are looking at this as a major contribution to the academic fields of women’s studies, development studies, history, cultural studies and anthropology. As the research progresses, it is expected that a series of working papers on the 3 major areas will be produced. Policy statements to reach academic researchers, development organizations, donors as well as government agencies will be drawn. There is also a keen interest to engage with the media.