Book Review: The ‘IDEAL’ Muslim Girl

The discourse on religious ‘reform’ in Muslim societies has largely centred on the figure of the Muslim woman. This has been an ongoing process, evolving throughout the periods of colonisation, decolonisation and the making of nation-states in South Asia, in particular Pakistan and India. Tracing these periods of political transition and evolution, Shenila Khoja-Moolji in her book, Forging the Ideal Educated Girl: The Production of Desirable Subjects in Muslim South Asia, interrogates the “sedimented knowledges about the girl and her education” and offers convergent and divergent articulations on the subject of the educated Muslim girl.

Unearthing archives of 19th century journals and post-colonial narratives on education, Islam and gender, Khoja-Moolji puts forward the ever-evolving competing voices of both male and female ‘reformers’ that intersect with the making of a nation and the construction of religion and class relations. Through these competing voices, the author makes an attempt to understand their rationale behind encouraging or discouraging girls’ education, their demand for the ideal curriculum for girls and the need for finding the most suitable place to impart education to girls.

In giving this historical account of a multiplicity of views, Khoja-Moolji’s study is embedded in the cultural context of the female Muslim subject and involves a reading of a wide range of texts, including novels, political pamphlets, government documents, periodicals and television among others. Reflecting over the “competing conceptions of feminine subjectivity”, Khoja-Moolji examines these texts that have shaped the discourse on the production of ideal educated girlhood in Muslim societies in British India, the first decade of Pakistan’s genesis and contemporary Pakistan.

More at the source:

Shenila Khoja-Moolji (’05 A.B.), is assistant professor of gender, sexuality, and women’s studies at Bowdoin College. USA

Author: ismailimail

Independent, civil society media featuring Ismaili Muslim community, inter and intra faith endeavors, achievements and humanitarian works.

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