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Elusive Lives: Gender, Autobiography, and the Self in Muslim South Asia
Published by Stanford University Press
Muslim South Asia is widely characterized as a culture that idealizes female anonymity: women's bodies are veiled and their voices silenced. Challenging these perceptions, Siobhan Lambert-Hurley highlights an elusive strand of autobiographical writing dating back several centuries that offers a new lens through which to study notions of selfhood. In Elusive Lives, she locates the voices of Muslim women who rejected taboos against women speaking out by telling their life stories in written autobiography. To chart patterns across time and space, materials dated from the sixteenth century to the present are drawn from across South Asia - including present-day India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Lambert-Hurley uses many rare autobiographical texts in a wide array of languages, including Urdu, English, Hindi, Bengali, Gujarati, Marathi, Punjabi and Malayalam to elaborate a theoretical model for gender, autobiography, and the self beyond the usual Euro-American frame. In doing so, she works towards a new, globalized history of the field. Ultimately, Elusive Lives points to the sheer diversity of Muslim women's lives and life stories, offering a unique window into a history of the everyday against a backdrop of imperialism, reformism, nationalism and feminism.
Siobhan Lambert-Hurley is Reader in International History in the Department of History at the University of Sheffield.
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