South Asia

Organized Panel Session

1 - Lost Between Canons: Urdu Feminist Poetry from India

Saturday, July 7
10:20 AM - 11:50 AM
Location: Casuarina, Lower Ground Floor

We Sinful Women (1990), the most celebrated anthology of Urdu poetry by Pakistani women poets not only brought unprecedented public attention to Urdu feminist poetry, it also established a feminist canon in Urdu and proposed what the term ‘feminist’ should mean for Urdu literature. The notions of feminism it established against the backdrop of contemporary Pakistani politics had a significant impact on the process of defining feminism in Urdu and had negative consequences for Urdu literary feminism in India. 


My paper will compare Urdu feminist poetry from India with both Urdu feminist poetry from Pakistan and Hindi feminist poetry from India. Using an inter-canonical approach to research, it will argue that due to significant differences between literary feminisms of India and Pakistan that are rooted in their distinct histories, politics, and cultural contexts, it is difficult to locate Urdu feminist writings from India within the established feminist canon of Urdu. The features of feminism embodied in this canon have prevented literary scholars and critics from examining and appreciating Urdu feminist poetry from India. My paper will also suggest that due to shared social, political, and cultural contexts, there is much more in common between contemporary Urdu feminist poetry written in India and Hindi feminist poetry, and therefore Hindi literary feminism has the potential to provide both a space and framework for Urdu literary feminism in India.

Fauzia Farooqui

Princeton University, United States

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