Suma Chisti

I am Suma Chisti. Presently I am pursuing my doctoral research at the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kharagpur. I have completed my M.Phil. from the Department of Comparative Literature, Jadavpur University. The title of my M.Phil. dissertation was “Tradition v/s Modernity: Muslim Women in and out of Purdah”. I have presented my paper at various national and international conferences like SALA-36 held at Trivuban University, and AMLI-2021 held at Sussex University. I also joined conferences at Open University, U.K., and IIT Patna. I was also invited for a talk at BRAC University, Dhaka, Bangladesh. I published some of my work on some academic platforms.

Current Research:

In my ongoing doctoral research, I am exploring how the Bengali-Urdu debate in Bengali Muslim community, which was apparently an after-effect of standardization of Bangla and emergence of Sanskritized Bengali, Sadhubhasha (pure Bengali language), created an impact on Muslim women’s education in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century colonial Bengal. Due to the Sanskrit affiliation of the newly codified Sadhubhasha, Bengali-speaking Muslims preferred to use Urdu as their vernacular, while in most cases their mother tongue was Bengali. This language conundrum gave birth to the Bengali-Urdu debate among Bengali-speaking Muslims. This linguistic conflict regarding the community’s vernacular had a serious impact on Muslim women’s education in particular, as women’s education, in general, was promoted mostly in vernacular in colonial Bengal. So, in my work I am investigating how the Bengali Muslim women of colonial Bengal had to face two layers of difficulties regarding the choice of language in formal education. Firstly, the restrictions of English education for being a woman; secondly, the restrictions of education in vernacular Bangla for being a Muslim.

The objectives of my work are (i) to scrutinize the trajectory of Muslim women’s education in colonial Bengal and the linguistic dilemma/issues while shaping their curriculum; (ii) to identify the various components that created the platform for Muslim women’s education; (iii) to unravel the multi-layers of conflicts: social mobility, religious identity, gender identity, and community solidarity that Bengali-speaking Muslims of colonial time had to face in the path of getting education.

Areas of Study:

Gender and education, Language and Identity, Religion and nationalism, linguistic nationalism, Third World Feminism

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