Construction of gender in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century in Muslim Bengal

The writings of Nawab Faizunnessa Chaudhurani and Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain

Authored by: Firdous Azim , Perween Hasan

Routledge Handbook of Gender in South Asia

Print publication date:  November  2021
Online publication date:  November  2021

Print ISBN: 9780367479657
eBook ISBN: 9781003043102
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter looks at the construction of the Bengali Muslim woman in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Bengal, through the works of Nawab Faizunessa Chaudhurani (1834–1903) and Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain (1880–1932). Coming from aristocratic families, both were educated at home, but went on to establish girls’ schools. The chapter considers the influence of Rupjalal (1876), a work of fiction, and “Amader Abanati” or “Our Downfall” (1903), an essay. Both writings address women not in the contemporary mold of modernity, that saw them as suitable companions for educated men; rather they are individuals who think and reason for themselves, or struggle to overcome personal disappointments and suffering.

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