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‘This is an important, incisive book with great depth and range, which provides new insights into equality, gender and self in the pioneering work of Pakistani women poets including Ada Jafri, Zehra Nigah, Fahmida Riaz, Kishwar Naheed and Sara Shagufta, also placing them within the history of Urdu women’s poetry and progressive literature.’ -Muneeza Shamsie, Independent scholar
In Gender, Sexuality and Feminism in Pakistani Urdu Writing, the author critically interrogates the construction of gender, community and nation in the work of progressive women poets. The book combines the study of nation and community through a close engagement with Urdu literary culture in the twentieth century and particularly the work of pioneering literary women. It argues that gender and sexuality become fixed signifiers in the trauma of partition and the formation of the post-partition Islamic nation. The story of literary women in Pakistan taking up the mantle of public poets thus has to be understood in relation to the history of reform, anti-colonial resistance and transnational Islamicate culture. The book examines the presence of feminist thought in the work of progressive women poets charting their interrogation of the clash between secular and sacred values and the increasing split between liberal and Islamic nationalism. The book suggests that through their writing and experiences, women have negotiated sacred and secular spaces to move beyond a community that is subservient to nationalist ideology.