Cover of Elusive Lives by Siobhan Lambert-Hurley
Elusive Lives
Gender, Autobiography, and the Self in Muslim South Asia
Siobhan Lambert-Hurley

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July 2018
272 pages.
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Cloth ISBN: 9781503604803
Paper ISBN: 9781503606517

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Muslim South Asia is widely thought of as a culture that idealizes female anonymity. However, Siobhan Lambert-Hurley highlights an elusive strand of female autobiographical writings dating back several centuries throughout the region to explore the ways in which they challenge our notions of a culture thought to both literally and figuratively veil its women. In Elusive Lives, Lambert-Hurley makes a case against this common assumption, arguing that these women were consciously rejecting their muted existence. She offers their voices as evidence of a new lens through which to study the neglected genre of Muslim South Asian autobiography more generally. The book is based on texts from the sixteenth century to the present, drawing on materials from Muslim communities all over the Indian subcontinent—present-day Pakistan and Bangladesh, Delhi, Bombay, Calcutta, Rampur, Bhopal, Hyderabad, and Mysore. Drawing on a wide array of well over 200 original texts in Urdu, English, Hindi, Bengali, Gujarati, Marathi, Punjabi, and Malayalam, Lambert-Hurley uncovers patterns across time and place. In doing so, she works towards a theoretical model for reading gender, autobiography, and the self in texts that have long-defied Euro-American analysis.

About the author

Siobhan Lambert-Hurley is Reader in International History in the Department of History at the University of Sheffield.