Current Institutional Affiliation
Independent Scholar, Anthropology

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 1998
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Anthropology, Columbia University
Contemporary Islamist Movements: Attempts at an Anthropological Analysis and Critical Review

While much has been written about Islamic movements since the Iranian revolution in 1979, women Islamists have received scant attention. I propose to contribute towards filing this gap by exploring the domains of the members of a women students’ Islamist group in Bangladesh, “Bangladesh Islami Chatri Sangstha.” My dissertation research project centers on two questions: (1) Why and how are modern-educated, urban women engaging in Islamic activism in present Bangladesh? (2) How do these women reconcile the striking difference between the subordinating relegation of women to the home in the Islamist ideology and their own authoritative occupation of public space in daily life? To contextualize my study adequately, I will address the secularist and other religious women’s groups, paying particular attention to the discourses of each group around gender, culture, Islam, and national identity. I will collect the data through in depth interviews, participant observation, and study of Islamic print and audio media. My theoretical prism will hinge on six bodies of knowledge: (1) studies of women in Bangladesh, (2) literature on Islamic revival, (3) practice theory, (4) studies of gender inequality, (5) Foucaultian and Gramscian theories of power, and (6) theories of national and transnational civic spaces.