Guest Lecture by Maryam Mirza

Resisting Activism: The Politics of Apathy and Disengagement in South Asian Women’s Fiction

Thursday, Nov 14, 6-8 pm | Room IG 4.201

My talk will draw on an ongoing book project which focuses on the theme of resistance in Anglophone fiction by South Asian women writers. Moving beyond a conceptualization of resistancedeveloped purely in response to colonialism and/or patriarchal oppression, my book calls attention to the emancipatory politics, contradictions and disturbing manifestations of resistance, as wellas its ambiguous affective implications. Through the lens of Manju Kapur’s novel Difficult Daughters (1998), and Kamila Shamsie’s Broken Verses (2005), my talk will grapple with the depiction of political apathy and disengagement in the context of two significant moments of female activism in contemporarySouth Asian history: the anti-colonial nationalist movement duringthe years leading up to the Partition of India in Kapur’s novel, and General Zia-ul-Haq’s military dictatorship and his Islamizationmovement in Shamsie’s. Deploying an interdisciplinaryframework, I will examine the ways in which political apathy in these texts is intimately bound up with the concepts of freedom, choice and agency and, more broadly, with fundamental questions of female identity.


Maryam Mirza is Assistant Professor in World Literatures in English at Durham University, UK. Her firstmonograph Intimate Class Acts (2016) was published by Oxford University Press, and her essays haveappeared in journals such as The Journal of Commonwealth Literature and the Journal of PostcolonialWriting, as well as in anthologies. She is currently working on her second monograph, whichis under contact with Manchester University Press and is provisionally entitled Resistance and ItsDiscontents in South Asian Women’s Fiction.