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A Question of Izzat: Honor, Shame, and Ownership Among Sunni Muslims in South Asia and the British Diaspora

Lila Ramos Shahani


This paper is part of a larger project that looks at Asian writers in the English-speaking world. It focuses on literature representing British-Muslim identities in relation to post-9/11 and post-7/7 debates on national identity, cultural and religious expression, and the future of multiculturalism in Britain. While the postcolonial paradigm offers a rich site for examining the long-term consequences of colonialism in relation to first- and secondgeneration writers, the complex politics of location in recent British-South Asian fiction points to the emergence of a new set of positionalities. I argue that much contemporary minority writing has come to reflect a significantly altered context in which secularism, cosmopolitanism and hybridization are being challenged by a politics of faith and insurgency—a politics that is at once defined and contested within specific communities and along transnational lines. At the fulcrum of these political debates spurred by minority writing are questions of honor and shame articulated on the physical location and moral evaluation of women in diasporic communities.


women’s oppression; multiculturalism; translation; ghettoization; religion; ethnicity

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13185/KK2013.02104