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Weaving lives from violence: possibility and change for Muslim women in rural West Bengal

Stadlen, Alexandra (2018) Weaving lives from violence: possibility and change for Muslim women in rural West Bengal. PhD thesis, The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

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Abstract

This thesis is about the changing lives of Muslim women living in a not so out of the way place. Though on the geographic margins of India, at the fringes of the state of West Bengal, the Hindu goddess-named village they call home has become increasingly connected. In recent years their verdant, jungle isolation has been stripped away by fresh tarmac, mobile phone signal and the formerly shadowy yet increasingly assertive presence of a global Islamic reformist movement. The lives of a diverse group of women in this village of Tarakhali are drawn together to ask what it is to be a Muslim woman here, at this time. Female personhood is understood as something constructed through the skilful navigation of myriad forms of everyday violence. This deft handling of tension and contradiction gains strength and significance as women experience this moment of incorporation and the accompanying transformations. The fundamental role of Islam in shaping their understandings is explored through charged encounters with the conservative Tablighi Jama’at and the increasingly unpredictable and violent interactions with the supernatural. As conceptual and actual spaces are opening up for women, how they enter the labour market and engage (un)productively with microfinance is explored, as is how they transcend village, gender and social boundaries to become “seen” by local bureaucracies. Finally, the impact of this moment of discord in which some beliefs and experiences clash with others is drawn into focus, as this is how it shapes the way in which these women envisage a future both here on earth, and in the hereafter.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2018 Alexandra Stadlen
Library of Congress subject classification: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BP Islam. Bahaism. Theosophy, etc
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
Sets: Departments > Anthropology
Supervisor: Bear, Laura and Banerjee, Mukulika
URI: http://etheses.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/4096

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