SOAS University of London

SOAS South Asia Institute

'Oral narratives - memory from the margins' of Oral narratives - Subjugated Knowledges'

Neelam Hussain

Date: 21 October 2020Time: 3:00 PM

Finishes: 21 October 2020Time: 4:45 PM

Venue: Virtual Event

Type of Event: Webinar


This session is based on three stories from the field to show how the fluidity of the spoken word has the potential to subvert the rock hard fixity of patriarchal laws, tradition and culture and change narrative trajectories and open up spaces for change.

The three stories have been taken from papers written by Huma Fouladi: ‘Forced Marriage and Jirga Justice in Tribal Balochistan’; Afiya Shehr Bano Zia: ‘Subverting Their Sex: Women’s Resistance to Sexual Violence and Nazish Brohi: ‘The Anatomy of a Rumour’ published in Disputed Legacies -The Pakistan Papers, ed. Neelam Hussain (a Simorgh-Zubaan publication 2019). In all three cases, women as individuals and as collectivities appropriate established norms, traditions and language-use to overturn and challenge oppressive discourses and systems. The case studies comprise: ‘Saima’s Story’ (Huma Fouladi,); Reclaiming her story – the case of Afiya Khoso and subversion of the male gaze (Afiya Shehr Bano Zia) and - the multiple uses of rumour and laying claim to public spaces (Nazish Brohi).


Prof. Neelam Hussain read BA Hons in English Literature from Kinnaird College Lahore and for the MA degree at Government College Lahore followed by an MA from Leeds UK and post-graduate research at Sussex. Neelam then joined Kinnaird College as a lecturer in 1974 and, apart from the break for further study in the UK, was there as English faculty till 1995. Neelam left Kinnaird to work at Simorgh Women’s Resource and Publication Centre in 1995 and have been there since then. Simorgh is a secular, feminist not for profit organisation and apart from overall oversight as Executive Coordinator, my work entails direct involvement in both academic and field research including the editing and publication of a sporadically produced socio-legal journal ‘Bayan’ and other publications;. Neelam's other work has included the production and publication of an annotated selection of Punjabi folktales documented by British folklorists during the Raj and translation from Urdu to English of two novels: ‘Inner Courtyard’ by Khadija Mastur and ‘All Passion Spent’ by Zaheda Hina.

This event is part of the Virtual SOAS Festival of Ideas, a week-long series of virtual events. The festival includes: panel discussions, student led installations, masterclasses, keynote lectures, a public debate for/against on Decolonising Knowledge and a Verbatim performance by Bhuchar Boulevard on ‘Decolonising Not Just a Buzzword’ capturing SOAS conversations about the need to decolonise its imperial mission.

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Organiser: SOAS Festival of Ideas, SOAS South Asia Institute

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