Feminism and the Veil: Poetry, Politics and Women in Urdu Literature

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Join us for an exciting discussion about feminism and politics in Pakistani literature.

This is an in-person only event at the British Library.

Urdu is a language beloved by many for its contributions to South Asia’s literary, poetic and cinematic traditions. In her new book, Gender, Sexuality and Feminism in Pakistani Urdu Writing, Dr Amina Yaqin delves into 20th-century histories of women’s writing in Urdu and shifting contexts of the veil. She explores the legacy of Progressive women poets as well as new, regional voices articulating alternative feminist futures in Pakistan.

Thi is a rare opportunity to view early printed books and manuscripts from the Library’s collections relating to legacies of feminist and women’s writing in Urdu. Following this, Dr Sofia Rehman will be in discussion with Dr Yaqin and writers Rukhsana Ahmad and Aamer Hussein to explore the varied world of Pakistani women’s writing in Urdu. The event will conclude with a drinks and refreshments reception.

Rukhsana Ahmad is a writer, playwright and translator. River on Fire was shortlisted for the Susan Smith Blackburn International Award; Wide Sargasso Sea was shortlisted for the Writers’ Guild Award for Best Radio adaptation. Recent plays include Homing Birds and Queen of Hearts. Her fiction credits include The Hope Chest and The Gatekeeper’s Wife and other stories; her translations credits include We Sinful Women Contemporary Urdu feminist poetry and The One Who Did Not Ask, a novel by Altaf Fatima. Rukhsana co-founded Kali Theatre Company and is the founding chair of SADAA. She has served as RLF Fellow at QMUL.

Aamer Hussein was born in Karachi in 1955 and moved to London in 1970. He studied Persian and Urdu at SOAS. He has published several acclaimed collections of short fiction and two novels. His most recent works are a volume of stories in Urdu; Restless: Instead of an Autobiography (2021), and a book of essays, House of Treasures: Perspectives on Urdu Literature (2023).

Dr Amina Yaqin is Associate Professor in World Literatures and Publishing at the University of Exeter. Her most recent book Gender, Sexuality and Feminism in Pakistani Urdu writing is published by Anthem Press. Other books include Framing Muslims: stereotyping and representation after 9/11 (co-authored with Peter Morey) (Harvard UP) and Muslims, Trust and Multiculturalism: New Directions (co-edited with Peter Morey and Asmaa Soliman) (Palgrave). Her interviews have aired on the BBC, Sky News and Pakistan Television Network. She is co-founding co-editor of the journal Critical Pakistan Studies published by Cambridge University Press. 

Dr Sofia Rehman (chair) is an independent scholar specialising in Islam and Gender. She is the author of a Treasury of Aisha bint Abu Bakr (Kube publishing) and the forthcoming monograph, Gendering the Hadith: Recentering the Authority of Aisha, Mother of the Believers (Oxford University Press). She is a contributor to Mapping Faith: Theologies of Migration edited by Lia Shimada, Cut From the Same Cloth? edited by Sabeena Akhtar and the upcoming Tilted Axis Press anthology, Violent Phenomena: 21 Essays on Translation. You can connect with her on her Instagram @Sofia_reading where she talks about all things related to books, faith and academia.

This event will not be live-streamed.

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Name: Feminism and the Veil: Poetry, Politics and Women in Urdu Literature
Where: Foyle Visitor and Learning Centre
The British Library
96 Euston Road
Show Map      How to get to the Library
When: -
Price: Free
Enquiries: +44 (0)1937 546546
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