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Elora Shehabuddin

Feb 4, 2022

Sisters in the Mirror

A History of Muslim Women and the Global Politics of Feminism

University of California Press 2021

Elora Shehabuddin’s new book Sisters in the Mirror: A History of Muslim Women and the Global Politics of Feminism (University of California Press, 2021), traces the genealogy of the representation of Muslim women, and especially Bengali women, from colonial contexts to the contemporary moment. Weaving a rich analysis using diverse historical archives, the study highlights how notions of feminism did not develop in isolation, especially between the Anglo-Western world and South Asia but rather in tandem, as a result of entangled political realities, such as colonialism, partition, post-partition and the war on terror. 

Sisters in the Mirror then tells a feminist story about how the changing global and local power disparities-between Europeans and Bengalis, between Muslims and non-Muslims, between Muslim feminists and Western feminists have shaped ideas about change in women's lives and also the resistance and activism that have unfolded as a result. In the postcolonial contemporary reality, which contains further economic and social imbalances, Muslim advocates for women's rights are forced to define their agendas, stories, and voices in the shadow of Western imperial and economic power. The powerful stories highlighted in this book capture that complex terrain in which justice and equality are fought for while emphasizing that no community or culture has a monopoly on how to define these concepts. This book will be of incredible interest and value to those who think and write on South Asia, feminism, and gender, especially Islamic and Muslim feminism.

Shobhana Xavier is an Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Queen’s University. More details about her research and scholarship may be found here and here. She may be reached at shobhana.xavier@queensu.ca. You can follow her on Twitter via @shobhanaxavier.

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Shobhana Xavier

Shobhana Xavier is an Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Queen’s University. More details about her research and scholarship may be found here and here. She may be reached at shobhana.xavier@queensu.ca. You can follow her on Twitter via @shobhanaxavier.

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