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Abstract

This essay deals with the treatment of wifely agency as delineated by three South Asian women writers: Ismat Chughtai, Tehmina Durrani and Selina Hossain. It tries to prove that the Muslim wives as projected in the fiction of these writers from the patriarchal societies of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh are not uniformly oppressed victims of socio-religious discourses. Though often their bodies are subjected to rigorous discipline, docility and even battery, these wives still demonstrate sufficient agential powers to resist the status quo and chalk out a fresh trope of identity for themselves. Their domestic agency, sexual agency and decision-making powers, are some of the agential strengths that are analyzed in this paper, along with their bargaining and networking skills. Under their “Micro Mechanisms of Power,” gossip and indifference are also depicted as powerful tools for wives to retaliate against oppressive conditions in marriage.

Note on the Author

A recipient of the East West Center Scholarship (Honolulu, Hawaii, 1990) and the PEO International Peace Scholarship (Des Moines, Iowa 1996), Dr. Hafiza Nilofar Khan earned her Ph.D. from The University of Southern Mississippi in 2008. Her area of specialization is Postcolonial Literature with emphasis on South Asian Literature/Film in English. Her dissertation entitled, “Treatment of a Wife’s Body in the Fiction of Three Sub-Continental Muslim Women Writers” reflects her interest in Gender Studies, Cultural Studies, and Islamic jurisdiction. South Asian Diasporan Literature in North America is yet another area in which Dr. Khan has offered courses both nationally and internationally. In 2013 she received a grant from the Independent University, Bangladesh to do research on Bangladeshi women writing fiction in English. Dr. Khan is also a creative writer, translator and freelance artist. Fluent in three languages, she has written short stories, poetry and ethnographic essays in English as well as Urdu. She has also translated a couple of Selina Hossain’s short stories from Bangla into English. Currently Dr. Khan is the head of the Department of English and Modern Languages at the Independent University, Bangladesh.

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