Women’s Space “Inside the Haveli”: Incarceration or Insurrection?
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AbstractWhile the Hindu and Muslim veiled woman may respectively appear to be relics of traditional class and religious values, or as icons of the eroticised female body of colonial desire, she still appears as a powerful – and ambiguous – indicator of meaning in contemporary literature. Both Asian and Euro-American theorists have recognised the equation in imperialist through between the feminised nation and the trope of the veiled woman. Yet how far is the figure of the Indian woman invisible as well as silent? This article discusses how gendered representations of women represent the changing role of women in terms of the traditional place of women behind the screen of purdah, within the confines of the haveli (harem). Ironically, while women are placed in restricted gendered spaces within certain Islamic cultures and in upper castes of India – struggling to find agency and identity outside such spatial definition – western feminists have advocated the creation of “women-only” spaces. This article will challenge traditional concepts and debate the implications of both first and third world feminisms.