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Being seen: the political and bureaucratic entanglements of Muslim women in West Bengal

Stadlen, Lexi (2022) Being seen: the political and bureaucratic entanglements of Muslim women in West Bengal. Contemporary South Asia, 30 (1). 58 - 71. ISSN 0958-4935

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Identification Number: 10.1080/09584935.2021.2022601


Through an ethnographic focus on a Muslim village in rural West Bengal, this article explores how a group of women have come to defy gendered socio-cultural and locally rooted religious interpretations to become the bureaucratic and political gatekeepers within their community. The wider climate for Muslim men at this moment across India, the characteristics of bureaucratic spaces themselves and the perceived necessity of this kind of work for the most marginal are all identified as facilitating this shift. Yet in addition to these factors, this article will claim that the women themselves are wilfully utilising these encounters in order to become seen by the organs and actors of the local Indian state. It is not simple recognition they are after, nor to be considered as bureaucratic or political insiders, but rather to be seen on their own terms in diverse and context dependant ways that are ultimately of their choosing. As such, this shorkārī kāj or political work has become a central part of their daily lives and identities, to which it is suggested that their attributes and experiences as women may make them particularly well suited.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2022 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.
Divisions: Anthropology
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
Date Deposited: 17 Mar 2022 16:24
Last Modified: 23 Mar 2022 08:30

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