“The Home, the Veil and the World: Reading Ismat Chughtai towards a ‘Progressive’ History of the Indian Women’s Movement.” Part of the themed section “Theorizing the ‘First Wave’ Globally.”

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Abstract

This paper discusses the work of Ismat Chughtai (1911-1991), a controversial writer whose long literary career extending over four decades roughly corresponds to the formative stages of the Indian women’s movement. It interprets Chughtai’s novella The Heart Breaks Free (1966) to forward an anti-teleological enquiry of the women’s movement in India. This progressive teleology often suggested by a discussion of the ‘waves’, ‘stages’ or ‘phases’ of the Euro-American women’s movement and adopted to postcolonial women’s movements, such as those in India, Jamaica, and South Africa, is belied by the piecemeal legislative gains won by activist efforts. Some of the questions 3governing my enquiry are: What lessons can a questioning of teleology teach us about the gains and losses of postcolonial women’s movements? If the alternative to teleology is, as I suggest, a genealogy, then what constitutes a genealogical enquiry into the women’s movement in India? In face of apparent and self-acknowle
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-44
JournalFeminist Review
StatePublished - May 2010

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