Dr Sherin Basheer Saheera is Associate Professor, at the Department of Comparative Literature and India Studies, The English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad, India. Her academic interests include Secularism and Religion in India, Gender Studies, Comparative Studies, Regional Cinema, Contemporary Art and Urban Studies. Her PhD dissertation on ‘Islam and Women in Kerala,’ is an attempt to study the political presence of Muslim women in South India through a post secular lens. A bilingual scholar, she has published in English and Malayalam with reputed journals. She regularly contributes to popular intellectual journals and magazines in India on topics of contemporary relevance. She is a recipient of the fellowship by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, United States at the University of California, for ‘The Study of the U.S. Institute on Religious Pluralism’ in 2015, and also the Grant of British Academy for the writing workshop ‘Global Southern Epistemology (2018.)’ Her monograph on women and Islam is published by Orient Blackswan, titled Gendering Minorities: Muslim Women and the Politics of Modernity (2021). She is also the author of the book, Feminism, Desheeyatha, Muthalaq: Prathi Vyavahaarangalude Raashtreeyam (Feminism, Nationalism and Triple Talaq: The Politics of Counter Discourses) 2018, in Malayalam.
‘Reconciling Faith, Modernity and Nation: A Study of Early Muslim Women’s Journals from South India’
My study proposes to undertake the analysis of women’s journals in Kerala of early twentieth century where a large number of writers and readership consisted of Muslim men and women. The journals were published by small scale print houses and circulated among the Muslim community. Muslim women were associated with these journals as editors and publishers, shaping a public sphere different from that of nationalist and colonial imaginations of the public. If a gendered structuring of the spaces happened in these community spaces, it was from a different idea of community and faith, unlike the ideological frame work of nationalist politics that asserted the dichotomy of spiritual and material terrains, famously identified by Partha Chatterjee (Chatterjee, 1989.) This study would make remarkable contribution to unveiling an archive to politically engage with women in religious communities. I would like to further this approach to inquire into the political understanding of rights and the complexities involved in the liberal humanist readings of heterogeneous identities. Premising on work of scholars like Saba Mahmood on the Middle East and Egypt, I intend to use early twentieth century Muslim Women’s journals in Malayalam to understand ‘Muslim woman’ as a political subject at the intersection of colonialism, minority status, faith and gender.