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Title: South Asian women and the construction of political identity
Author: Takhar, Shaminder
ISNI:       0000 0001 3496 3065
Awarding Body: Open University
Current Institution: Open University
Date of Award: 2003
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The thesis examines the complex characteristics of agency and identity construction, focusing on South Asian women. Firstly, it attempts to demonstrate the centrality of networks of history and discourses in the construction of the female postcolonial subject. Secondly, it uses qualitative research to challenge the assumed low levels of organization amongst South Asian women, demonstrating that forms of political agency exist. Historical contextualization of South Asian women's experiences enables us to understand their position, with all the complexities involved, along the axes of caste, class and religion, in contemporary society. It is particularly significant with reference to race, culture and multicultural understandings, facilitating a departure from a stereotypical understanding of passivity and complacency. The research is based on in-depth semi-structured interviews carried out with South Asian women within the Greater London area. Understanding South Asian women's experiences and the interpretations of 'belonging' goes some way toward unravelling the complexities of subjectivity and identity. Ideas around race and gender and the ability to act individually and collectively are analyzed in the women's narratives, allowing exploration of social positioning and agency. The interviews investigate the processes of negotiation that take place in the construction of identities and new subjectivities; how experience can influence a woman's consciousness of her position in the world. In fact a number of contradictory positions may be taken up as well as adopting a unified identity, for example along the lines of culture or religion. This research shows how South Asian women understand themselves and examines identity construction, and it is precisely the fluidity of it which is complex, it goes beyond the idea of fixed and essential political identities. Evident are the ways in which women draw on history, and the constant negotiating between essentialized and collective identities, and subjectiveexperiences as post-colonial subjects.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral