Aroosa Kanwal


This survey paper focuses on Pakistani Anglophone literary narratives that examine the multiple identities of victimized women as opposed to the commonly endorsed essentialist and reductive argument that is too easily conscripted into post-9/11 global discourses surrounding women of colour. In the context of the global hegemony of Western scholarship, my purpose in this paper is to foreground the simultaneous liberation and subjection, centricity and marginality, of Pakistani women. I argue that it is important to situate third world women’s subjection as well as agency in relation to the class, regional, ethnic and religious diversities that inform the degree and nature of freedom and constraints that women experience. In addition to this, urban, rural, tribal and feudal environments also inform the plurality of victimized identities as well as of women’s agency. Against this backdrop, I read Pakistani literary narratives as acts of breaking through the Eurocentric monopolization of a reductive one-dimensional image of the Muslim world by emphasizing the need to situate the subjectivities of Pakistani women within community-based relationships and responsibilities, both of which have intrinsic value in Muslim culture. In so doing, I emphasize the importance of incorporating in these dominant discourses an exclusively Pakistani-Muslim feministic perspective that considers and claims pluralistic alternatives.

Author Biography

Aroosa Kanwal is Assistant Professor in English Literature at International Islamic University, Islamabad, Pakistan. She received her PhD from Lancaster University, UK. She is an author of Rethinking Identities in Contemporary Pakistani Fiction: Beyond 9/11 (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2015). Her book was awarded the KLF-Coca-Cola award for the best non-fiction book of the year 2015 written by the writer of Pakistani origin. She teaches modern drama, Pakistani Literature in English, Postcolonial literature, contemporary short fiction and literary criticism and theory. Her current research interests include post-9/11 constructions of Muslims and Islam in relation to Islamophobic discourse, politics of representation, and questions of migration, borders, identity and resistance in contemporary Pakistani Anglophone fiction. Her chapters on these connections can be found in Claire Chambers and Caroline Herbert, Eds., Imagining Muslims in South Asia and the Diaspora (Routledge, 2014) and Daniel Meyer-Dinkgräfe, ed., Consciousness, Theatre, Literature and the Arts (UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2012).