Decolonising Gender in South Asia is the first full-length compilation of cutting-edge research on the challenging debates around decolonial thought and gender studies in South Asia. The book elaborates on various ways of thinking about gender outside the epistemic frame of coloniality/modernity that is bound to the European colonial project.
Following Walter Mignolo, the book calls for epistemic disobedience using border thinking as the necessary condition for thinking decolonially. Borders in this case are conceptualised not just as geographical borders of nation states, they also signify the borders of modern/colonial world, epistemic and ontological orders that the gendered and racialised populations of ex-colonies inhabit. Dwelling, thinking and writing from these borders create conditions of epistemic disobedience to coloniality/modernity discourses of the West. The contributors to this collection, all ethnic minority women from South Asia and the South Asian diaspora, write from and about these borders that challenge the colonial universality of thinking about gender. They are writing from, and with, subalternised racial/ethnic/sexual spaces and bodies located geographically in South Asia and South Asian diasporic contexts. In this way, when coloniality/modernity is shaping universalist understandings of gender, we are able to use a broader canon of thought to produce a more pluriversal understanding of the world.
The chapters in this book were originally published as a special issue of Third World Thematics.
Introduction - Decolonising gender in South Asia: a border thinking perspective
Nazia Hussein and Saba Hussain
1. Prayers to Kāli: practicing radical numinosity
2. Re-animating Muslim women’s auto/biographical writings: Hayat-e-Ashraf as a palimpsest of educated selves
3. Pious capital: fashionable femininity and the predicament of financial freedom
4. ‘Bordering’ life: denying the right to live before being born
5. Menstruating women and celibate gods: a discourse analysis of women’s entry into Sabarimala temple in Kerala, India
6. The culinary as ‘border’: perspectives on food and femininity in the Indian subcontinent
7. A decolonial reading of the Punjabi (m)other in British Asian literature
8. The (im)possibility of decolonising gender in South Asia: a reading of Bollywood’s ‘new women’
Saba Hussain and Nazia Hussain