Book chapter / Women, Islam, and Postsecular Feminism

Santhosh R. 2018. Beyond the Binaries of Islamic and the Secular: Muslim Women’s Voices in Contemporary India. In Nandini Deo (ed.) Postsecular Feminisms: Religion and Gender in Transnational Context. London: Bloomsbury.

Abstract: This chapter foregrounds the context of Kerala to address larger debates about the postsecular turn in feminism and suggests that the arguments that try to characterise postsecular as a space/phase beyond the secular and as something emerging from the “true traditions of religion” is highly problematic.

The chapter points out that that the articulations of Islamic feminism cannot be understood outside the larger logic of modernity and its unfolding manifestations in the current period of late modernity.

Two interconnected factors to highlight this argument are presented in the paper: first, the processes of reformism and secularisation within Islam that engendered the process of making “women’s question and Islamic feminism” a discourse as well as a movement within the community and, second, the wider secular processes, ideologies, and institutions that constitute an integral part of their everyday experience in a multi-religious society like India.

By elaborating the emerging Muslim women’s voices from Kerala, the chapter argues that the two narratives of secular and Islamic feminisms in India are not unconnected parallels; rather, they significantly inform and interpenetrate each other, forcing an observer to go beyond the binaries of the secular and the religious.

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Reposted from Kerala Scholars eGroup