Organized Panel Session
This panel considers the critical role of Muslim women across South Asia in fields such as state, literature, and religion in order to understand questions of women’s agency, selfhood, social impact, and public life. Not only does the panel examine vastly understudied figures and subjects, but it also interrogates them with new sources, methods, and questions, pushing the boundaries of existing scholarship. Sana Haroon’s paper, drawing upon oral accounts and institutional history, reveals the role of women in Pakistani bureaucracy and their navigation of professional and personal relationships. Syed Akbar Hyder probes the towering Urdu novelist Qurratulain Hyder’s oeuvre in order to tease out her creative transgression of genres that allows readers flexibility to read between the lines and extract different histories across nation-states while simultaneously emasculating Western Enlightenment’s category-based schema. Mehreen Jamal’s paper, based on women’s writings in Urdu journals, conveys new meanings of selfhood and belonging in the early years of Pakistan’s foundation. Usha Sanyal, through her extensive field-based research in the South Asian Diaspora and in a small town in India, uncovers women’s social relations by focusing on the questions of ethicality and orthopraxy. By engaging aspects such as women’s role in public institutions, self-effacing efforts at generating discussions, fashioning a new language of expression, and effecting social impact, this panel employs unique ways to understand women in a dynamic societal, intellectual, and public role. The panel includes diverse countries, academic ranks and genders.