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Whitman College

Publication Date

Spring 2013

Program Name

India: Sustainable Development and Social Change


This Independent Study Project examines the depiction of Muslim women in Indian Partition literature as a means of understanding the relationship between public and private identity. It analyzes the manners in which female Muslim characters respond to and negotiate modes of categorical identification, namely religion, surrounding Partition. Furthermore, this study juxtaposes these generalized accounts present in literature with individual responses from interviews with Muslim women living in New Delhi today. The women spoke regarding their conceptions of Islam and the manner in which they incorporate faith into their overall negotiation of private identity. The project finds that Partition, one of India’s most tumultuous historical times, was also perhaps the height of societal judgment based on external identification cues. Women today express commonalities with certain aspects of the characters depicted in these novels, but they generally articulate an acute ability to shape the self without overt influence of public institutions of power, incorporating multifaceted components into their identity, which includes, but is not limited to, religion.


Comparative Literature | Religion | Religious Thought, Theology and Philosophy of Religion | Social and Cultural Anthropology | Women's Studies


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