Young Muslim women from slums impact India’s globalization: York U study


TORONTO, January 20, 2015 — Muslim women and girls living in the slums of Kolkota are at the forefront of India’s globalization process says York University researcher Kabita Chakraborty in her new book, launched Tuesday.

In her book, Young Muslim Women in India: Bollywood, Identity and Changing Youth Culture (published by Routledge), Chakraborty explores how they contribute to and are impacted by the changing youth culture in India. The Children’s Studies researcher spent nearly two years in the large city of Kolkata, West Bengal, as part of field research.

“It is a common perception that slum youth are poor victims who are excluded from India’s social change, and this discourse is even more challenging for minority Muslim communities,” observes Chakraborty. “The reality on the other hand is that girls and young women living in the slums have incredible ambitions, desires and transgressions that impact the country’s sociopolitical changes.”

As a scholar of youth cultures, Chakraborty documents their experiences, drawing on their own opinions, words, visual images and stories. “The youth were actively involved in peer-to-peer interviews, leading neighbourhood tours, creating photobooks of their lives, participating in yoga as a participatory method, and many other youth-driven activities,” notes Chakraborty.

Through her book, Chakraborty offers a peek into the intimate lives of many girls and young women who are keen on fulfilling risky desires and performing multiple identities.

“They share with us how they learn sexy Bollywood dancing; how they develop romantic relationships; and how they win time and space to participate in various aspects of a globalizing India which often tries to exclude them,” points out the author. “More than just fantasy, Bollywood emerges as an important role model which these young people consult.”

The book was launched at an event sponsored by the Department of Humanities and the York Centre for Asian Research.

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