Islamic feminism in South Asia


The research project Local dynamics of a transnational discourse: Islamic feminism in South Asia is based on the assumption that a new generation of Muslim women activists is currently emerging in South Asia and that these new actors are willing to participate in de-bates on the production and reinterpretation of religious knowledge, based on the normative sources of their religion, to an extent which was hitherto hardly known. Like other contempo-rary reform movements within Islam, these new Muslim actors in local, national, and transna-tional spaces argue that believing Muslims do not depend on religious authorities in order to understand the Koran, but that they can rather and should indeed read and interpret the Koran for themselves. Thus, their efforts can be seen as an answer to the perceived crisis of religious authority as well as the crisis of (political) representation, on the local, national and global level. The project argues that one of the essential prerequisites for this process was the rapid medialisation of South Asian societies which has sped up since the beginning of the 1990s. Using the example of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, the research project analyzes the strate-gies, forms of organisation and communicative spaces as well as the media appropriations of Muslim women activists who on the one hand aim at a reformulation of national-secular or secularist gender discourses and on the other hand strive for the recognition of their demands in their own, local communities as well as in the majority society (in the case of India). A major focus will be laid on the question of their subjectivity and agency vis-à-vis religious authorities (the Ulama) and their interpretative power over the Islamic textual sources. The major aim of this project is to show how essentially new ideas, practices and actors such as the new Muslim women activists in South Asia emerge from the manifold connectivities be-tween transnational and local publics (and movements) and that they are highly relevant for the dialectic process of secular-national and religious discourses as well as for the question of identity of South Asian Muslim men and women as citizens.


Principal Investigators
Schneider, Nadja-Christina Prof. Dr. phil. (Details) (Mediality and Intermediality in Asian and African Societies)

Duration of Project
Start date: 05/2010
End date: 08/2012

Last updated on 2020-12-03 at 23:08