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Year: 2011 Type: Article Language: English

This paper is based on a three‐year research project entitled Minority Women Negotiating Citizenship. Conceived of in the aftermath of Gujarat 2002, the project studied 75 life‐history narratives of Muslim women survivors of communal violence in Gujarat, Hyderabad and Mumbai, in order to map their everyday experiences of negotiating survival, marginalisation and exclusion. While analysing our material we found that our preliminary organising or analytic categories – victim, agent, Muslim, woman, class, location – could not contain the negotiations and fluid ‘subjects’ of the narratives. The most useful analytic concepts and tools were those being used by the women themselves in their narratives, such as bahar nikalna and sambhalna. These women negotiate a hostile state, poverty, violence, communalised politics and public spaces, and increasingly belligerent community structures on an everyday basis. The complexity of ‘identity’ and ‘agency’ as they emerge in the narratives, and the syncretic nature of their everyday negotiations, challenge the rigidity of existing frameworks and dominant discourses on issues of Muslim identity and citizenship.

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